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October vegetarian challenge inspires students to reconsider what they eat

ASU is sponsoring a 31-day vegetarian challenge to encourage student awareness of vegetarian options and benefits

Graphic_Vegetarian Month.jpg
"Vegetarian month is a great time to try out different food habits." Illustration published on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017.

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, and the Student Services Center at Barrett, the Honors College is hosting a month-long “vegetarian challenge” in celebration.

ASU students are being encouraged by Barrett student services and Well Devil Ambassadors to adopt a vegetarian diet for the month of October. By keeping track of their progress, students can earn prizes and learn more about healthy options on the ASU campus.

Global health and biological sciences junior Katelyn Dinkel, the student event planner at Barrett student services, said the challenge stemmed from a desire to raise awareness about vegetarian options on campus.

“Barrett has really good options. They have 'Meatless Mondays,' and now at every station they have a vegetarian option as well. They also have a station that is permanently vegetarian called 'The Daily Root,'" Dinkel said.

Dinkel emphasized the health benefits of a meatless diet, but encouraged students to educate themselves about forming balanced meals without meat.

“For nutrition reasons … it's a good idea because (vegetarianism) can cut out some red meat, which is bad in terms of blood pressure and cholesterol,” Dinkel said. “The important thing to remember when eating vegetarian is to make sure you get enough complete proteins, so in that sense (students) have to make sure they’re being vegetarian well -- don't just eat quesadillas every day.”

For exploratory freshman Callista Morlock, vegetarianism isn’t just a month-long challenge; she’s followed the diet for two years.

“The best part (of vegetarianism) is learning that there are so many different kinds of foods to eat,” said Morlock. “For some reason a lot of people think you can't cook a meal without meat, or it won't taste good, but you can put spices on vegetables and cook them right and it’ll taste good. Our society is very meat-centric.”

While Morlock said she stopped eating meat for dietary reasons, she recognized that the diet is not for everyone.

“There are a number of reasons that it’s beneficial to be vegetarian, but for me, it’s a personal choice. I’m not going to pressure anybody to be vegetarian,” Morlock said. “If everyone was vegetarian, that would be great for our environment, and it would actually have a huge impact, but even just one person at a time is good.”

She said she felt that ASU has room for improvement when it comes to providing vegetarian and vegan options to its students.

“I feel like whenever I go (to the dining hall), it’s like, ‘Oh, we have cheese pizza here,’” said Morlock. “Usually Pitchforks says they have a vegetarian option, but it’s the (non-vegetarian) meal with the meat taken off of it.”

Aerospace engineering freshman William Mulkern, who is taking part in the challenge, agreed that the vegetarian options at ASU can be scarce. 

“The dining hall has one specific stand, 'The Daily Root,' which has vegan food. For the most part, though, meat is a main ingredient in the majority of the things that they cook,” Mulkern said.

Despite the extra effort necessary to locate vegetarian meals on campus, Mulkern said the experience has been a worthwhile one.

“I’ve gained insight into my own nutrition," Mulkern said. "Before, when I walked into the dining hall, I’d grab this and this and this and throw it on a plate. Now, I’m looking at my plate and thinking, ‘Okay, what am I eating? Why am I eating it? Is this going to make me feel gross later? It’s made me more aware of what goes into my body … I do miss chicken, though.”

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