Committing to vegetarianism
By Jasmine Han
Sitting in an a crowded coffee shop on a crisp fall day, Robin Brandt sips a cup of coffee and chats about her thoughts on being vegetarian.
Brandt is a vegetarian and has fully committed herself to eating healthier for the past three years. Prior to this commitment, and throughout her life, she had gone back and forth with this lifestyle.
One of the biggest reasons why Brandt is a strict vegetarian is because of her lack of trust in the agriculture business.
“As far as the meat processing plants go, [I don’t trust] that the products are safe to eat anymore, [for an example] with the whole beef crisis out in Brooks,” Brandt says. “And that’s the same with dairy, beef, chicken, turkey or pork. I don’t feel quite the same with fish, sometimes I will have a little bit of salmon.”
Holistic Nutritionist Stacey Deering says vegetarians can still get all of the necessary protein and nutrients from plant-based foods.
“Most importantly in a vegetarian diet, balancing macronutrients (protein, fat and carbs) and making sure the diet contains sources of protein with all amino acids,” she says. “I recommend getting a variety of protein through plant foods such as quinoa, lentils, beans and legumes as well as eggs, nuts and seeds. Protein is found in many plant sources.”
Brandt grew up on a farm of where she and her sister helped raise two or three dozen chickens that were bound for slaughter.
“My dad would put their head in between two nails that were pounded into a stump [and] he would chop their head off with an ax,” Brandt says. “They would flop around and they usually did backflips for a little bit until they were dead.”
“As a kid, it never really bothered me. But when I think of it now, it makes me repulsed.”
Another big reason for Brandt’s vegetarian lifestyle is her love for animals.
“I was holding a budgie at Petland and I was thinking ‘how did I kill chickens because it’s the same thing, Brandt says. “It didn’t bother me then, but now if I had to do that, there would be no way.”
As a former paramedic, Brandt spent two years studying pre-medicine, which involved learning about anatomy. This is why seeing a steak on a plate bothers her.
“When I see a steak I don’t call it a steak, I call it a piece of quadriceps muscle,” Brandt says. “I look at animals the same way as us. I don’t see it as a piece of meat, I see it as a muscle on a body, it doesn’t look any different to me.”
“The more medical training I got the less I wanted to eat meat.”
Brandt has also experienced health benefits such as having lower cholesterol.
“At 40 years old I should have started medication because my cholesterol was high. And since I haven’t been eating animal fat my cholesterol is lower than normal,” Brandt says.
Brandt remembers eating meat but not because she enjoyed the taste of meat, it was because she wanted the protein.
“Whenever I ate a piece of chicken or something with a bone in it I hated eating it, but I felt like I had to eat it to get the protein,” Brandt says. “I never enjoyed cutting into a steak and eating it. It was only out of the feeling that I had to.”
Now that Brandt is vegetarian, she enjoys her meals to the fullest degree.
“I eat a lot of raw fruits and vegetables and I love the taste of them,” Brandt says. “I can actually sit down and eat a meal and enjoy every single bite of it and not feel any guilt or any repulsion.”