Vegetarianism is a dietary condition that entails refraining from meat and to some extend related animal products. Various people will cite different reasons as to why they ended up embracing such a kind of mannerism in their diets. Religious, social, economic, medical and cultural reasons have been attributed to various forms of vegetarianism. Vegeterians differ in their types of preferences with regard to meat and related animal products.
Teenagers on the other hand will have various reasons as to why they find themselves embracing vegetarianism. There cases of vegetarianism in teenagers with roots in their childhood, while some happen to have developed vegetarianism at some point in life with regard to the reasons cited above.
This paper describes vegetarianism in teenagers with regard to its origin, types, reasons why teenagers opt to become vegetarians and the related disorders in line with the arguments against teenage vegetarianism alongside what parents can do in order to combat vegetarianism in teens.
Though a number of health benefits are attributed to a vegetarian diet, a number of teenagers have abused the drive to live healthily.Majority of teenagers opt for vegetarianism at the onset of teenage in the name of living healthy when they are out to cut weight. This does not only lead them to restraining from animal products but also developing weird tendencies in eating that are bound to amount in to major complications.
Studies indicate that a number of teens who claim to be vegetarians succumb to a number of eating disorders in the sense that they end up overeating certain foods at the expense of others with little or no reference to a balancing their diet.
Eating disorders among teenage vegetarians is evident among a large number of teens who in the name protecting animals or staying healthy will still consume other animal products in relatively large quantities as if they are compensating for not eating meat.
Research indicates that a large number of American teenagers embracing vegetarianism eat extremely high contents of fish and chicken which is equally unhealthy as they do not consider balancing their diet. Any form of vegetarianism that has its roots in teenage is questionable as a good number of teens are out to cover up for other reasons and eating disorders in the name of going healthy.
Parents are thus to question their teenage children who decide to embrace vegetarianism when they get to this stage. It is quite rare for most teenage vegetarians to embrace the same for the right reasons and indeed stay healthy. Only a very small number whose vegetarianism has its roots in their childhood or religious and cultural backgrounds may have appropriate dieting with vegetarianism.
If not advised vegetarian teens that are not truly vegetarian will develop serious disorders as they try to fake vegetarianism for their own minor and far fetched reasons. Most teenage vegetarians are only out to abuse true vegetarianism and their parents should discourage them (Rasoholf)
Teenagers are very flexible in decisions and can easily be changed by other people’s view especially parents who have authority over them and to a large extend the society.
Other than vegetarianism with roots in childhood, teenagers of known health related complications will cite their condition as a medical therapy to help combat the condition and this is approved and not questionable as the motive is medically acknowledged.
This is common for teens with complications that are bound to be managed through abstinence from animal proteins or increased use of vegetables and fruits such as obesity. Such forms of vegetarianisms is okay since on recommending for the same, their doctors will not only have ascertained the benefits inherent but also offered guidelines such that there likely to be no risks involved ( Kids health)
The history of vegetarianism dates back beyond the ancient Greek times and it is hard to ascertain an exact period in which vegetarianism developed as vegetarians existed all along with the advent of various diets. Socrates alongside other powerful Greek philosophers embraced this type of diet.
With regard to vegetarianism in America, the increased need to study and establish dietary trends among vegetarians started towards the end of the 19th century and at around the onset of the 20th century.
Vegetarian is an adjective first used in 1847 by an association of vegetarians in Great Britain called the vegetarian society. The advent of various religious groups in America saw the coming of various mannerisms in regard to diet, studies indicate that American seventh day Adventists embraced this type of diet (Pelletier, 84)
Studies done on the history of vegetarianism indicate that the exact advent of vegetarianism in western civilization came with its accredited founder and initiator Rev William Cowherd who is renowned for supporting the poor by giving them vegetable made soup in the north of England that happened to be industrial at the moment.The soup he gave to the natives of this land went at no cost.
The onset of vegetarianism in America is thought to have been with the coming of the British Reverends converts in 1817, this later led to the formation of the American vegetarian society at around 1850. This group cited alcoholism, poverty and cases of false foods as their reasons for embracing vegetarianism.
A case is implicated in 1900 where both the American and British governments got so concerned with the diet practices of the poor and a research ensued on the lack of proteins in many diets among the poor especially those embracing a vegetarian diet.
Various readily available sources of proteins were cited and the battle between the government and the vegetarian society began with many of the society members citing religion, ethics and cultural reasons forbidding the incorporation of some animal products in an individual’s meal (Pelletier, 84).
The battle was lost to the American government with the release of the USDA publication on the incorporation of various animal products in meals a situation that saw many Americans attach so much value to the consumption of various animal products ranging from meat, eggs and milk Americans thought the high consumption of various animal proteins was a sign of affluence as the poor had been associated with vegetarianism.
The government had to strategize its policies towards the production of various animal products especially meat a move that saw many farms turn into meat and animal processing plants. Many Americans risked their lives to lifestyle diseases with the high consumption of animal products and the increased industrialization and urbanization.
Research points out to various types of vegetarianism; lacto vegetarians refers to a type of vegetarians who do not eat any flesh but can derive their proteins from other animal products milk in particular hence the term lacto whose origin is from the milk sugar lactose. Lacto –ovo-vegetarians are almost similar to the former but are dissimilar in the sense that unlike their counterparts they eat eggs in addition to milk to meet their protein requirements.
A distinct group of vegetarians also called vegans or strict vegetarians avoid all kinds of flesh and any other animal related product, their diet is strictly based on plant products.
A handful of such vegetarians will take honey but some do not. Fruitarians on the contrary are a group of vegetarians whose diet consists of various kinds of plant fruits bearing in mind that there plants whose fruits take the form of nuts, and seeds, such a group also perceive tomatoes alongside courggettes as fruits and do not eat plant roots like potatoes and carrots (American dietetics association,)
Vegetarians if not advised are bound to end up lacking essential nutrients contained in various animal products that they miss in their diet especially in the event of strict vegetarianism.
Among the essential nutrients contained in animal products including meat, fish and poultry are iron needed for proper function of the red blood cells, calcium that is essential for the proper activity of the bones and strengthening of teeth, oil soluble vitamins including vitamin B12 that protects an individual against pernacius anemia and vitamin D that is absorbed alongside calcium in the body, this two are needed for the growth of bones with regard to the fact that at teenage ,many developmental changes are expected with the body physique changing from childhood to a form that will determine adulthood and if the if not checked they risk developing a number of health protein defiencies as well.Majority of teenagers who opt for vegetarianism have no understanding of the risks involved and should thus be questioned if not advised or barred (Mangels ,2003).
Parents of teenage children are advised to take appropriate measures in ensuring that teenage vegetarians do not suffer from the common deficiencies associated with vegetarianism. They should realize the need to have these nutrients supplemented in their teenage children owing to the fact that many changes in their body occur at this time.
Iron is essential for the multiplication and proper formation of red blood cells , its thus advisable that parents of teenage girls who are bound to start their menses supplement their diets with enough iron rich foods so that they do not develop anemia on shedding blood during their menstrual periods (Allen ,199).
Parents are especially warned that if they notice their teenage children showing interest in developing certain body shapes especially for teenage females with the American liking for the slim figure, such children risk embracing a vegetarian diet with the sole aim of growing slender and need to be appropriately advised if not barred from the same (Norton,).
The implications of a vegetarian diet are good with regard to health where research indicates that people known to embrace this diet are not bound to suffer from many modern life diseases also called lifestyle diseases ranging from cancer especially for colon cancer in men, obesity and heart related disorders. It is economically viable to embrace such a diet since animal products are relatively expensive to cater for.
However with regard to teenage various reasons are cited some not being very genuine and parents are advised to ensure that teenagers get proper advise on the same and they reserve the right to stop any form of vegetarianism geared for with wrong motives as implicated.
Allen Michael, Deep vegetarianism, Temple university press, 1999.
American Dietetic Association; Dietitians of Canada. “Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Vegetarian Diets.” Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research 64.
Katie Rasoholf. Vegetarianism in teens. Palo Alto medical foundation 2003.
Mangels Reed PhD., Vegetarian nutrition for teenagers, 2003.
Norton Army, Vegeterianism can signal unhealthy eating.
Pelletier, Kenneth R., MD. The Best Alternative Medicine, Part I: Food for Thought. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.
Teen’s health, Becoming a vegetarian.