How to Make College More Affordable

Essay by sympathysCollege, UndergraduateA, June 2013

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You Are What You Eat

I grew up eating a relatively healthy, albeit meat and potatoes, diet. My mother was a believer in low sodium meals, tended to use healthier oils to cook with, and I was not allowed to have white bread as a child. These things have influenced my dietary tastes in adulthood, and I have been interested in the role that diet plays in one's overall heath and longevity for several years. I experimented with a strictly vegetarian diet for almost a year when I was in my early twenties, but I actually managed to develop a soy allergy for a while from eating tofu all the time. Lately, I have been eating a primarily plant-based diet again because I am now a little wiser about how to do it correctly, and I believe that a plant-based diet is the most healthful way to eat.

Some people are skeptical of the ability of plant foods to alter the course of disease, forgetting that many of the most powerful drugs in our modern arsenal are derived from plants. A study of 15,000 American vegetarians suggests their lower chronic disease rates translate into fewer surgeries, including hysterectomies, and fewer medications, including aspirin, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, antacids, pain-killers, blood pressure medications, laxatives, and insulin (Knutsen). Studies also show that a plant-based diet can lower the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease because they are largely preventable diet-related illnesses (Sinha). If people made better-informed dietary choices, some chronic diseases would not be so deadly.

It is easy to struggle with eating a plant-based diet sometimes. I jokingly refer to myself as a semi-vegetarian who doesn't like to eat vegetables. When I am in the produce aisle of the grocery store, I sometimes find myself staring down at a...