Plenty of college students are making the switch from carnivore to vegetarian. Everyone has their own reasons behind the switch, ranging from environmental to ethical to health-related reasons. We sat down with 11 Hopkins students to learn about their experiences and why they went veg.

Helena Arose

vegetarian

Photo by Clarissa Chen

Major: Archaeology
Year: Class of 2017

Why are you a vegetarian?

I became vegetarian when I was 7 years old after meeting a lot of nice animals at a farm I visited, and deciding I no longer wanted to eat them. But I chose to continue being vegetarian throughout the years for a number of reasons, including the devastating nature of the meat industry, not just for animals, but also for the environment. Being vegetarian is also cheaper and healthier!

Favorite veg restaurant?

Golden West Cafe and Red Emma’s

Why do you think people don’t go vegetarian?

I think people feel like they will not get the nutrition they need (i.e. protein, iron) as a vegetarian, which is simply not the case. I think another reason is that people feel it will limit their options in terms of dining, which is true to some extent, but changing all the time with more vegetarian restaurants, meat alternatives, veggie recipes, etc.

Most compelling reason to go veg?

I think that for college students, being vegetarian makes a lot of sense. It’s much easier and cheaper than trying to cook meat for one.

Hannah Bunkin

vegetarian

Photo by Clarissa Chen

Major: Anthropology and International Studies
Year: Class of 2016

Why are you a vegan?

I have come to see less of a distinction between humans and animals than do many. Non-human animals can feel pain, have families, kinship obligations, communicate with each other. Thus, I object to industrial livestock farming in part for these reasons, as the environment that these animals spend the entirety of their short lives in is one marked by cruelty, pain, suffering, and monotony. The slaughterhouse is only the brutal end to an equally horrific life.

Favorite veg restaurant?

Liquid Earth. They have a lot of raw vegan food and wheatgrass shots.

Why do you think people don’t go vegan?

Convenience. Fear of being laughed at. The orientation towards the world that views nature as separate and distinct from humans, inducing an understanding that animals and plants exist so as to be useful for humans, rather than just being.

Most compelling reason to go veg?

I encourage others to really contemplate their current orientation towards nature. I know that animal farming has been normalized and accepted as a part of modern life. But that does not necessarily mean that it is a good thing, or the right thing to be doing. We should be questioning what has, over time, slowly been established as the dominant system of food production, and interrogate its logic, examine its consequences, such that we can begin to consider alternatives.

JoJo Castellanos

vegetarian

Photo by Clarissa Chen

Major: Biology
Year: Class of 2019

What influenced you?

No one in particular influenced my decision. However, the day I watched “Super Size Me,” which highlighted the lack of nutritional value in the fast-food industry, definitely opened my eyes to the affects of what we consume have on our bodies.

How long have you been a vegetarian?

I have been a vegetarian again for a little over a month, so I am pretty new at this.

Greatest challenges you’ve faced?

The hardest part of moving away from eating meat is definitely finding places that offer different options for vegetarians. Basically, that’s why I stopped being vegetarian for a couple of months; there was nowhere around my community that had any viable options outside of a salad. I find that is also hard to choose to be vegetarian where there is a dish that you haven’t tried before, and you know that it has meat in it. I just can’t help but wonder if missed out on something.

Favorite fruit?

My favorite fruit is the pomegranate, obviously because it is sweet and has many chambers just like me.

Food you miss most?

Without a doubt in my mind, I miss fried chicken and hot wings. As Minny Jackson once said in The Help, “Fried chicken just tend to make you feel better about life.” So now that I can’t indulge in the gift that is chicken, I low-key find myself crying on the inside (My obsession with chicken really isn’t healthy – like I would have dreams about hot wings.)

Hannah Conti

vegetarian

Photo by Clarissa Chen

Major: Writing Seminars and Global Environmental Change & Sustainability
Year: Class of 2019

Why are you a vegan?

I am vegan because I find the meat and dairy industries disturbing, and generally feel healthier when I don’t consume products from other animals. I also was never a fan of meat.

How long have you been a vegetarian/vegan?

I’ve been a vegetarian for about 6 years and a vegan for about a month.

Greatest challenges you’ve faced?

The hardest thing is eating at the FFC because it’s hard to find flavorful vegan food options.

#SpoonTip: Check out these vegan dining hacks at Hopkins.

Why do you think people don’t go vegetarian?

I think many people think it is a hard switch that will cost a lot of money. I think that this may be true at first, but once things are figured out, you learn how to buy appropriately.

Josh Cross-Barnet

vegetarian

Photo by Clarissa Chen

Major: International Studies
Year: Class of 2019

Why are you a vegetarian?

I am a veggie because of how poorly animals are treated in the meat industry and because of the negative environmental effects of raising animals for meat.

What influenced you?

My sister and brother became vegetarians before me, I kinda just wanted to be as committed as they were.

Favorite veg dish?

I love pizza. Just plain cheese pizza. Pineapple pizza is very good too.

Most compelling reason to go veg?

Environmental impact? Climate change is the number one issue right now, in my opinion, and so we should do everything possible to protect the Earth, and it is 100% possible to survive without meat.

Caroline Halligan

vegetarian

Photo by Clarissa Chen

Major: Film & Media Studies
Year: Class of 2019

Why are you a vegetarian?

When I was four, I realized for the first time that the turkey I was eating was actually a turkey. I don’t remember it very well, but my mom says I was very upset at the thought of taking a turkey mom away from its baby turkeys for my consumption.

What influenced you?

To be honest, I think it was just my neurotic child-brain.

Favorite veg dish?

I love ramen! Ejji in Belvedere Square has great gourmet vegetarian ramen options.

Food you miss most?

Again, I don’t remember much. Turkey slices? Bacon sounds nice, and sushi. I also feel like I’m missing out on an essential part of being from Baltimore by not eating crabs.

Most compelling reason to go veg?

Think of the mommy turkeys! My empathy was always the most compelling reason for me.

Nemo Keller

vegetarian

Photo by Clarissa Chen

Major: Biomedical Engineering
Year: Class of 2017

Why are you a vegetarian?

Environmental, ethical, and social reasons.

Greatest challenges you’ve faced?

Planning my meals/snacks to avoid being hungry in certain situations when vegetarian meals are less common/available (like airplanes).

Favorite veg dish?

Curry (with lots of carrots and peas) – you can make enough for two weeks at a time, haha!

Why do you think people don’t go vegetarian?

They think it will make them weak or will be too hard to maintain (I can dead-lift 200 pounds and squat more than my weight, lol)

Most compelling reason to go veg?

Animal agriculture is killing the planet. Anything you can do to curb your intake of animal products (meat, dairy, etc) will help create more sustainable future for generations to come.

Divya Korada

vegetarian

Photo by Clarissa Chen

Major: International Studies
Year: Class of 2019

Why are you a vegetarian?

Cultural reasons, as well as various environmental reasons as I’ve become more aware of the connection between animal agriculture practices with climate change and pollution!

Greatest challenges you’ve faced?

I tend to get angry when people insist that they know my reasons for being vegetarian and have rationale for why I’m supposedly wrong.

Why do you think people don’t go vegetarian?

They aren’t really aware of where their food comes from, and might not care to find out, which is unfortunate. Even if you decide not to go vegetarian/vegan, you should definitely have some appreciation of how your food gets to your plate.

Most compelling reason to go veg?

I think at the very least people should consider reducing their intake of animal and animal products in order to lessen the impact of animal agriculture, which is actually responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions — more than the exhaust from all transportation.

Constanza Mays

vegetarian

Photo by Clarissa Chen

Major: International Studies and Global Environmental Change & Sustainability
Year: Class of 2019

Why are you a vegan?

For me, I can’t imagine not being a vegan. Animal products give me bad vibes. I can’t eat something knowing it came from inhumane practice. Especially when your diet is so important to your mental and spiritual health, it’s like you’re putting that bad energy into your body.

What influenced you?

I remember hearing something about veganism being good for keeping your body fit and healthy on YouTube one day, and that just led me to do my own research about the vegan lifestyle and learning about how much your diet can impact so many aspects of the world.

Greatest challenges you’ve faced?

One of the harder things about being vegan is interacting with others who don’t have the same food preferences. It’s also really challenging to get past people’s ignorance of veganism. I welcome the usual questions, but there are also a lot of people who don’t really know much about veganism before they begin to badmouth it.

Favorite veg dish?

Around campus I love One World’s vegan pancakes; they are to die for.

Most compelling reason to go veg?

Even if you don’t care about the environment or animal rights, you should most definitely care about your body! Countless of studies have shown that vegans are way healthier than their meat/dairy eating counterparts: They live longer, are less at risk for cancer and obesity, and in general just feel all around more energized throughout the day.

Chris Reinhardt

vegetarian

Photo by Clarissa Chen

Major: Writing Seminars & Molecular & Cellular Biology
Year: Class of 2019

Why are you a vegetarian?

I’ve been vegetarian a couple times in my life. The first time, in elementary school, was purely for ethical reasons. I don’t like how the meat industry inhumanely raises and slaughters meat, nor the environmental costs of our increased consumption of meat. However, I wasn’t getting enough protein and I wasn’t a competent cook, so I had to turn back to meat.
The second time, from January of last year to the present, was for health reasons since meat actually makes me sick when I eat it. So, it was really easy to cut it out the second time.

Greatest challenges you’ve faced?

I struggled to get enough protein when I was young. This time however, it was much easier; I just ate a lot of Greek yogurt, a lot of eggs, and drank protein shakes. Recently, though, I’ve had to cut out dairy for medical reasons, which is rough. Now my main protein comes from beans and eggs, until I find a good vegan protein powder.

Favorite veg restaurant?

Red Emma’s! It’s a queer-founded, collectively owned, anarchist coffee shop and bookstore on North Ave.

Why do you think people don’t go vegetarian?

Expense and a lack of experience in cooking vegetarian. For college students, foods with meat are often the cheapest and the most filling (Ramen, burgers, hot pockets, sandwiches). In addition, most people aren’t sure how to cook vegetarian– most vegetarian foods that “try” to taste like meat are terrible. Instead, you have to get creative with flavors and meals that used to center around meat now centering around something else.

Anything else to add?

There are numerous problems with the produce industry and the way it treats its workers. By no means do I advocate the life of livestock over the lives of people. I know it can be expensive, but if possible, try to buy fair trade, local, or humanely sourced goods. By doing so, you’re ensuring workers are compensated fairly and that the impact on the environment is minimal.

Alexa Schwartz

vegetarian

Photo by Clarissa Chen

Major: Writing Seminars
Year: Class of 2019

Why are you a vegetarian?

It was just something I’d been thinking about for a while. I don’t like the way the farming industry treats animals or the environmental toll raising livestock takes, and then I saw Fast Food Nation, so that really cemented it for me.

Greatest challenges you’ve faced?

It’s hard eating in foreign countries that aren’t as vegetarian-friendly as the US or at people’s houses when they just cook meat.

Favorite veg dish?

My favorite meal is vegetarian sushi and tempura.

Why do you think people don’t go vegetarian?

I think that meat is really highly valued in our culture, and people can’t really see giving it up.

 

For environmental, ethical, and health reasons, these Hopkins student decided to go veg. They bring up good points about the type of environmental impact it has on our globe, the ethical implications of traditional factory farming of livestock, and benefits like having a generally healthier diet, feeling better about the food that they’re consuming, and even saving money.

If you’re curious for more information, check out some other films, books, or blogs about the subject. Some well-regarded documentaries on the subject include Earthlings, Cowspiracy, Food, Inc.. Michael Pollan’s book, An Omnivore’s Dilemma, presents compelling points on the food industry in general, and for serious #veggiegoals check out Laura Miller’s blog.