No meat, no problem – K-Park students want others to try out a new diet


Lisette Harris

Sophomore GiGi Maestri paints a student’s face during lunch on Mardi Gras.

Lisette Harris, Staff Reporter

Many  people decide to change to a vegetable-based diet for health reasons and animal rights, but sophomore GiGi Maestri decided to go without meat for a different reason.

She is a Buddhist, and she believes that people are on the same level as animals.

In Buddhism, a religion with about 500 million followers, some adherents eat meat while others do not. Vegetarianism was not an early part of Buddhist traditions, but some Buddhists believe it to be a better way of practicing.

Maestri is a Zen Buddhist, which is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that revolves around meditation. According to Britannica, Zen teaches that awakening can be achieved by anyone but requires instruction by a master.

“When you’re Buddhist, you can be vegetarian. You don’t have to be vegan,” she said. “They eat the precious things the animals give you, but they don’t eat their meat, because they don’t believe in the killing of animals.”

Not everyone chooses a change in their diet because of religious reasons or animal rights.

Sophomore Grace Klauzner decided to go vegan when she discovered a long history of cardiac disease in her family. Veganism is a diet in which people do not eat meat or animal products. After researching the topic, she came to the conclusion that this diet would help prevent those kinds of health issues.

She still has many food options despite being vegan. With many additions of vegan substitutes to grocery stores, vegans can enjoy things like vegan meatballs, vegan pizza rolls and “chicken” without any actual chicken used.

Another diet that is out of the norm is pescetarianism.

When someone is pescetarian, like Kaeli Davidson, the only kind of meat they eat is fish.

She originally started fasting for church — and just kept doing it. The K-Park sophomore  has now been pescetarian for three years.

A study published by Vegetarian Times showed that 7.3 million people in the U.S. follow a vegetarian-based diet, and one million of those are vegan.

The number of people taking on these diets has been increasing for the past several years.

More and more people keep trying new foods and lifestyles.

“It’s not hard, and it’s not very different from eating meat,” Davidson said. “The only difference is, you’re not actually eating an animal. It’s just a different product, but it all tastes the same.”