Vegetarianism, once widely seen as an alternative, if not an extreme lifestyle, is now in the mainstream. Many schools, including SAS, adopt campaigns such as Meatless Mondays in order to encourage less consumption of meat and to give exposure to vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.
The growing trend towards giving up meat altogether suggests either that the moral objections have spread, that factors other than animal welfare are in play, or most likely, some combination of both. Olivia Morris, a senior at SAS, sheds light on some of these other factors that convinced her to turn to vegetarianism five years ago.
“In reality, there were several valid reasons to stop eating meat. As someone who would never be prepared to slaughter an innocent creature, it is somewhat hypocritical for me to purchase beef mince in a nicely packaged tray without thinking of the consequences. Although I felt powerless in the face of such a systematic operation of brutality, I was assured that at least I was doing my part in saying no to something that was so prevalent”, she said.
Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans. More than 3,000 animals die every second in slaughterhouses around the world. These figures do not even include fish and other sea creatures whose deaths are so great they are only measured in tonnes.
In her efforts to contribute to decrease the number of innocent creatures being slaughtered for “our own selfish pleasures”, Olivia became dedicated to distancing herself from any animal meats. “Midnight visits to the fridge were not made. Gelatine disgusted me and I even had to avoid certain toothpastes. Everything and anything contained an element of meat. Relatives would buy me leather bags for Christmas. Others would forget to mention animal-fat swimming vegetables that they were feeding me, and one friend thought it would be hilarious to throw a piece of meat at me every time we went in for our Subway lunch. I slowly began to believe that being a vegetarian itself wasn’t exhausting — it was the attitudes that came with it”, she explains.
“I slowly began to believe that being a vegetarian itself wasn’t exhausting — it was the attitudes that came with it”
After years of hardships and the constant pressure to eat meat, whether in school, at home, at restaurants, etc, Olivia decided to give up on vegetarianism. “I couldn’t do it anymore”, she said, “I eat 3 to 4 meals a day and absolutely all of them have some sort of animal product. Yes, I felt guilty at first, and I still do sometimes, but it serves to show how much society has a impact on your life choices”.
SAS is known to be a school with great food varieties, offering American, Asian, Italian, and Mexican cuisine. However, in Olivia’s opinion, vegetarians and vegans don’t have many options when it comes to their daily lunch. “If they don’t bring a packed lunch, they can really only eat salads or a veggie-only sandwich, which is what I found when I was still in my vegetarian journey; meals just weren’t fun and exciting for me”.
“Meals just weren’t fun and exciting for me”.
Ultimately, Olivia’s journey in switching her diet to a more environmentally friendly one came to an end when societal pressures and a lack of options discouraged her initial motivation. On a final note, she added, “Schools should really be mindful of the type of people they’re providing for; being a vegetarian was especially hard for me when it came to picking a yummy meal at school and also when other kids would make it difficult for me to keep leading that lifestyle.”