Practical Issues > Health
Four Vegetarian Stories

Four discuss the route from meat eating to vegetarian to vegan.

Brenda Stetson

When she married Douglas Stetson nearly a quarter century ago, Brenda Stetson began to learn and love the vegetarian lifestyle.

But sometimes, when she least expects it, she still misses scrambled eggs.

"I was from a meat-eating family," Stetson, 49, of Lowell, said. "I was 21 years old and my husband had been a vegetarian several years. I thought about it and it seemed like a good idea."

Embracing a vegetarian diet came naturally for the couple, she said.

When their three children -- 23, 18, 11 -- came along, there was no change in the family's vegetarian lifestyle. The key is that both parents follow the same diet, she said.
Joan Coffey

Joan Coffey has been a devoted vegan for more than 30 years, but did not raise her son that way or insist that her husband join her.

"A lot of vegans won't even cook meat, but I cook meat for my family," Coffey, 64, of Marietta, said. "My dogs and cats eat meat and wear leather collars. I don't."

Her 6-year-old grandson is no stranger to veganism.

"At least he knows what a vegetarian is," she said.

Her own lifestyle began quite by accident.

"It was gradual," she said. "I first gave up red meat, then fowl, then fish. A long time later, I became a vegan. It was all gradual."

Recently Coffey revisited dairy - cheese, milk, eggs -- and soon her weight began to increase.

"On May 1, I quit all dairy products. I've lost 10 pounds already just by giving up cheese," she said. "I feel better, have more energy and more of everything."

In addition to not having any desire to eat animals, Coffey has a wider concern for the world. Most of the livestock that is consumed by humans is grain fed.

"The grain we feed animals could feed a lot of humans all over the world," she said. "And you can buy a lot of black beans for what you would spend on meat."
Andrew Husk

At the ripe old age of 18 years, Andrew Husk made the decision to try a meatless diet for one month.

"I was really into nutrition anyway and once I got through that first month, I liked it very much," Husk, 19, of Parkersburg, said.

The decision was a combination of things -- a concern for health issues, friends who were living a vegetarian lifestyle and curiosity.

When he was in high school, fast food and burgers were a steady diet, he said.

"The last few years I decided to try to be healthy," Husk said. "It's hard, because when you go out to eat with your friends, it's more difficult, but has been well worth it."

His favorite food is hummus and vegan cookies.

Today Husk is working on a brand new goal -- veganism. He's giving himself 40 days to adapt to the exclusion of all dairy.
Anna Prince

Unlike many dedicated vegans, Anna Prince, of Marietta, must step away from her vegan lifestyle, from time to time, and return to dairy.

"I am on and off because of weight issues," Prince, a Marietta psychiatrist said. "I've been a vegetarian for years, but when my weight drops, I do eat a little bit of organic meat."

Whole grains, fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy comprise the mainstay of the heart-healthy diet, according to Prince.

"Eating a diet without meat is bound to stabilize weight," she said. "I grew up in the country where everybody had big gardens and put up fruits and vegetables."

The bottom line in veganism or vegetarianism, Prince said, is health.

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