A study, by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2009, shows that about 1 in 200 kids (about 367,000) do not eat meat of any kind. This rate could be up to six times higher in older kids that have more power over what they are consuming. Some have a different reason for the lifestyle than others: environmental concern, treatment of animals, health reasons, or religious reasons. But can kids and teens be responsible for their own nutrition?
Vegetarianism is sometimes seen as an easy way to lose weight or improve health. "Lots of science shows that a plant-based diet can prevent … heart disease, cancer, and diabetes," says Susan Levin, a dietitian at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. This is true, but many teens that rely soley on vegetables and continue bad eating habits such as eating doughnuts, french fries, soda or potato chips, are not heading down the right road. Without meat, vegetarians need extra amounts of protein, vitamins, and other nutrients.
"Since beef, chicken, and fish are good sources of protein and vitamins, teens who attempt to practice a vegan … diet are at greater risk for [vitamin] deficiencies," reports the California Department of Public Health.
Now what can be done to change health habits? Sure, Papio South has tried diet pops and baked chips, but lunch everyday still consists of the choices of french fries, pizza, hamburgers, and other unhealthy foods side by side with the various salads. There should be more encouragement of healthy eating and exercise, and there ought to be a decrease in the fatty foods and more of the healthy alternatives (like the new grab-and-go salads, those are tasty).