Oftentimes, people change their diets because they want to look good or simply be healthier. However, diets, such as the flexitarian diet, which is a more plant-based diet, can go much deeper than that.
Dr. Janet Brill, a nationally recognized expert in the fields of health, wellness and cardiovascular disease prevention, says people who adopt a more plant-based diet tend to be more responsible.
“A diet that is more plant-based is better for your health and the Earth,” Brill says. “These people are more personally responsible.”
This is exactly why Central Michigan University junior, Paige Pope, made a change in her diet.
“I have always been interested in where my food came from since my senior year of high school,” Pope says. “I have done research over the years and watched many documentaries on food, and I found that chickens, cows, pigs and even fish are pumped with hormones and additives to help them (gain) more weight so the company can gain a profit. In addition to that I changed my diet because the way these companies, farmers treat their animals is unethical.”
Pope adds that she sometimes does need to eat meat for a source of protein when she doesn’t have enough money, which is why she is not a full vegetarian right now.
A flexitarian lifestyle can go deeper than just the food someone eats. Hannah Bullion, a junior at Michigan State University, used to be vegan but due to traveling and school she had to abandon the stricter diet. Bullion still eats a predominantly plant-based diet but has also turned the diet into a lifestyle change.
“I definitely try to stray away from real leather. I do own a pair of leather booties and a purse, but that’s it,” Bullion says. “As for fur, I would never wear real fur because I think that is absolutely inhumane. I also try to use cruelty-free products when possible … Especially when trying new products.”
Emily Tricomo, a Wayne State University student, feels the same way.
“I try to buy makeup, makeup brushes and other beauty products that did not involve animal cruelty,” Tricomo says.
However, on the opposite side, Michigan State University senior, Hannah Brenner, says wearing leather can be positive in some circumstances.
“If they are already going to be slaughtered for meat then I think it’s respectful in a way to make that death as worthwhile as possible, and leather could be a great way to do that,” Brenner says. “Unfortunately that’s not always how it goes. It’s such a touchy subject, and it’s so difficult to tell where to actually draw the line.”
When people start to embrace a diet or lifestyle change, it can become an aspect that truly describes or defines them.
“Knowing I’m making a difference in this world feels good,” Deonte Hill, a pescatarian, says. “Knowing I can influence someone else’s life with my words and actions feels better.”
Similarly, Tricomo thinks her caring nature is what drove her to originally cut out meat completely. She had to introduce a little bit of meat back into her diet simply because she felt like she wasn’t getting the proper nutrients without it. However, she still has trouble eating meat off the bone and has days where she doesn’t want to eat it at all.
“I think my food choices make me a more conscientious person,” Tricomo says. “I’m very nurturing and a huge lover of animals. I truly don’t find my dog to be much different from a pig or a cow.”
Brill says that making a change to a more plant-based diet, such as the flexitarian or Mediterranean diets, are a win-win situation for the Earth and human health.