A Lifestyle Practiced by Many

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on August 18, 2010 with No Comments

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By Carl Kurek

According to various Web sites like medicinenet.com, the health benefits of a vegetarian diet are the number one reason people choose to take meat out of their diet.

But according to other Web sites such as vegsoc.org (The Vegetarian Society), a survey they conducted showed that the majority of people said they gave up meat and fish because they did not morally approve of killing animals, or because they objected to the ways in which animals are kept, treated and killed for food.

The main reason people choose to become vegetarians may never be known, but the health benefits of such a diet are undeniable.

MedicineNet states that research has shown that people who follow a vegetarian diet are at a lower risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, diverticulosis, renal disease, some cancers – including lung and breast – and gallstones. Vegetarian diets have also been shown to benefit people who already have Type 2 diabetes.

Since there are numerous reasons people choose to take on a meatless diet, vegetarianism is practiced by people of all ages. Looking at two individuals who are at different stages in their lives can show that anyone can lead a meat-free life.

Dale Clapp, 48, grew up in Hobart, graduated from Valparaiso University with a business degree and has been in the banking business in Northwest Indiana for over 26 years. He now resides in Valparaiso with his wife Lynn, he has two children, Dale and Kelly, and he is the executive vice president of sales management at Citizens Financial Bank.

About a decade or so ago, Clapp and his wife slowly progressed to a vegetarian lifestyle after they reflected on health problems that ran in their families.

“For us it was purely a health issue,” Clapp said. “We initially curbed our intake by eating primarily white meat and pastas, then eventually just eliminated meat altogether, with the exception of fish for me.”

While his body may be benefiting from his dietary changes, Clapp’s mind and taste buds seem to periodically suffer withdrawals.

“I can tell you that there are times where I would really love to have a cheeseburger or steak, but I know it has been so long that I’m afraid of how my system would react,” Clapp said.

Then there are those who choose a vegetarian lifestyle for the ethical reasons.

Carl Kurek – yes I am also the author of this article – is a 22-year-old senior at Purdue Calumet who currently works for two newspapers. He said he has been a strict vegetarian, meaning he eats no meat whatsoever, since the fifth or sixth grade, which accounts for approximately half of his life.

“Like a lot of kids, I always loved animals, enjoyed learning about them and thought I’d grow up to be a veterinarian,” Kurek said. “Then two cousins who I grew up with became vegetarians and I guess all of that together made me decide to try it as well.”

Kurek said that a few foods were hard to give up in the first few weeks following his decision to give up meat, but now the thought of eating meat never crosses his mind.

“I think that since I’m a vegetarian for the ‘love of animals’ reason, I don’t get the cravings for burgers and steaks that Dale does or have the slip-ups that some people who are trying to jump into the lifestyle might have,” Kurek said.

Clapp said that he is certain a vegetarian lifestyle has helped both he and his wife from a health perspective, but he also said that exercise is key to maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle, and it’s no different for vegetarians.

“Balance is the key in my opinion, regardless of how you eat,” Clapp said.

Kurek has enjoyed playing sports ever since he can remember and said that his vegetarian lifestyle did not affect his athletic ability.

“I wouldn’t say I’m any healthier than anyone else, especially since I don’t really eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but I’m definitely not any less healthy and it hasn’t held me back in any way,” Kurek said.

Both Clapp and Kurek agree that being a vegetarian is not an issue when it comes to friends, socializing or even going out to eat. They both also recognize the increase in vegetarian meals available at grocery stores, restaurants and even fast food chains.

“[My wife and I] really don’t have a problem going out to eat,” Clapp said. “In fact, many more restaurants today, considerably more in fact, offer a healthier, vegetarian meal, which has been much appreciated.”

Despite their differences in motivation, neither Clapp nor Kurek believe they will ever return to their old ways.

“I can’t see any reason that I would ever eat meat again,” Kurek said. “My views about things won’t ever change and I’m proud to be a vegetarian.”

Individuals should research vegetarianism and perhaps even consult with their doctor before taking meat completely out of their diet. For more information about vegetarianism and living a meatless lifestyle, visit www.vegsoc.com, www.medicinenet.com or www.goveg.com.

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