By Chloe Drescher and Bora Nanaj
Assistant Managing Editor of Promotions and Staff Writer
“Given that eating animals is in absolutely no way necessary for my family — unlike some in the world, we have easy access to a wide variety of other foods — should we eat animals?” asked Jonathan Safran Foer in his book “Eating Animals.” This is the book that influenced Jamesville-DeWitt High School students to restart the Vegetarian Club. “Lots of people in [AP Language and Composition] seemed to care about what was talked about in the book,” said junior Tal Frieden. He thought starting this club would be a great way to get people more involved about thinking about what they eat. “I didn't realize it would be such a huge impact,” said AP Language and Composition teacher Courtney Romeiser. “They have such enthusiasm,” she added.
The goal of this club is to “let students know that it’s not all or nothing, you can make lots of choices in the spectrum,” said English teacher Connie Myers-Kelly, the club’s adviser. Whether it’s being a vegetarian or pescatarian for a week, a day, or even a couple of months, the Vegetarian Club helps to introduce students to a healthier and new lifestyle. “Ultimately we want to support people to learn more about new recipes or to try a more vegetarian lifestyle,” said Mrs. Myers-Kelly.
“The club is really fun, and it’s good to have a support system of people who share the same eating habits as I do,” said senior Victoria Roney, a vegetarian in the club. Physical Education teacher Emily Rowles believes that the Vegetarian Club is “a great outlet for people to talk about their eating habits.” The Vegetarian Club meets every Monday in Mrs. Myers-Kelly’s room.
The Vegetarian Club has a lot of ideas to get students more involved. In the near future there will be a two week trial called Pledge To Be Veg where people who aren’t currently vegetarians can try it out. During this trial nonvegetarians will be paired with a mentor, someone who has been a vegetarian for a while, to help them get through the process.The mentor will share recipes and cook with their partner to help make the change easier and livable. With this trial Frieden hopes to raise awareness for vegetarianism, get people to think more thoroughly about their eating habits and hopefully decrease the amount of meat that they consume.
The Vegetarian Club also has other plans for the year. In addition to field trips to a local vegan cafe, Strong Hearts, and preparing vegetarian meals together, this club has planned to create a J-DHS vegetarian cookbook. “We are working on bringing our own vegetarian, vegan and even gluten free recipes together in this book,” said Freiden. “Hopefully it will be part of the library at J-DHS and even on sale at some point,” he added.
Vegetarians and vegans are popping up all around the country and J-DHS, and not just because of the book. “I decided to be a vegetarian because I didn't like eating animals for environmental reasons,” said junior and club member Emily O’Connor. O’Connor has been a vegetarian for seven years. Chemistry teacher Theresa Groman, became a vegetarian 11 years ago for similar reasons. “I love animals and I wanted to save resources because it takes a lot of energy to raise animals for their meat,” Groman said. “I don't like meat, and I feel bad when I eat it,” said freshman Cearra Green, who has been a vegetarian for two years.
Another reason that people choose to be vegetarian is for the health benefits. “I just recently became a vegetarian for health reasons, and I’m excited to learn more about it through the club,” said senior Taylor Riley. Chemistry teacher Amy Boettger has been a vegetarian for nine years and also became one for a more healthy lifestyle.
Some students who aren’t currently vegetarians joined Vegetarian Club to learn about the lifestyle. Freshman Jamie Rieger joined the Vegetarian Club to see if it will motivate her to become a vegetarian. Freshman Maddie Scullion joined the club for similar reasons. “I’m not a vegetarian, but I thought it would be fun to join. I won’t become a full vegetarian, but I may try to cut out eating meat at home,” Scullion said.