Health, faith, ethics figure into vegetarian choice

Roshni Shah has been a vegetarian all her life.

So she had no special need to commemorate World Vegetarian Day earlier this month.

A junior in the seven-year dental program, Shah practices Jainism, a religion that prohibits the eating of meet.

“I don’t really believe in harming animals for food,” she said.

Even if she her were not religious, she would still be a vegetarian, she said.

Shah said it used to be more of a challenge, but newer health trends have made it a lot simpler.

“It has been easier because there are more vegetarian options out there for us to enjoy,” she said.

People have told Shah that vegetarian meat substitutes look gross, but to her they taste yummy.

Would she like to convert meat eaters?

“It’d be nice if I can have a positive impact on non-vegetarians being vegetarian, but ultimately it’s their own beliefs,” she said.

Another UDM student has also used her faith as a gateway to becoming vegetarian.

Megan Parikh, a Hindu and a junior in the seven-year dental program, has been a vegetarian for the past four years.

Parikh’s parents are vegetarians, but never pushed her to become one.

Parikh enjoys eating at Mexican Fiesta in Dearborn Heights.

The hardest part of being a vegetarian?

“Going to events, like dinners or club-related things or anything where there’s already pre-planned food, because there’s usually never or barely any vegetarian options,” she said.

Not everyone sticks to it.

Amber Cox, a freshman in the biology program, is a former vegetarian.

Cox was a vegetarian until her brother introduced her to the world of chicken at age 7.

During Cox’s years as a vegetarian, she was often picked on.

Her classmates never understood why she did not like fried chicken.

Cox is African American, and she viewed those comments then as racist.

Cox said she greatly enjoyed the imitation meat during her years as a vegetarian.

Grace Taylor, a chef at Common Grille in Chelsea, has been a vegetarian for nine months.

She is opposed to the more strict vegan diet because “I feel like vegans are kind of a cult.”

She decided to become a vegetarian to be healthier, but (unlike vegans) she eats eggs and dairy (as well as vegetables).

Taylor said that she misses bacon the most.

“Bacon and healthy really don’t mix,” she said.

Taylor said the diet is “not at all harder, just know your stuff.”

She also said that many foods, like beans, quinoa, eggs and hemp seeds, are complete proteins containing recommended amounts of amino acids.

Taylor takes the organic route with all her foods.

Like Taylor, Megan Parikh sees benefits in a meatless diet.

“It’s healthier in general,” she said. “You can see the results; it’s less fat, low cholesterol, good for heart and your entire body.”