By Marisa Flack, staff writer

Since freshmen aren’t allowed to leave campus, lunch gives them little freedom to choose where to eat. Something they can choose is what to eat, and I did not choose the easy route.

Being the avid Pinterest user I am, I came across ’22 High Protein Vegetarian Meals Under 400 Calories’ and read them all in one lunch period, strictly out of boredom. With my friend Emily looking over my shoulder, she immediately put a bet on the table thinking that going meatless is impossible.

The deal included none of my favorite fast foods for 100 days.

It was impossible to decline the bet because I was looking for new ways to be healthy, and being some sort of vegan/vegetarian/cutting-out-a-food-group type person was all the rage.

Being a vegetarian is more than just not eating meat. People need the absent nutrients from an alternative source. Without the nutrition, it quickly becomes difficult to have a happy and flourishing body.

What I noticed was the vast majority of meals I began to eat were extremely healthy. From veggie burgers that consisted of beans to tofu that consisted of soy milk, it was a major adjustment because it’s almost impractical to pair those things with something bad for you. But of course that came with the minority of fatty foods, like greasy cheese pizza.

Not every meal without meat is equivalent to low-calorie, high-nutrient cuisine. That’s why I don’t think this food style should be considered completely healthy.

Like anything, always asking if there were vegetarian options at restaurants and skipping on a big part of family dinners became routine. I started to not think of it as a bet but just the way I ate, and I accepted it.

To others, they didn’t see the big picture of being a better eater. They saw the trend.

Vegetarianism, along with veganism, has recently became mainstream, specifically among teenagers. A common reason people confess to becoming a follower of the trend is because they “love animals”. I’m not buying it.

A love for our furry friends is why being vegetarian/vegan is tied with animal welfare. They definitely relate in my book, but avoiding animal products because of having a big heart for pigs and cows isn’t going to save their lives.

If you passed the steak aisle at the grocery store, I don’t see how that is making any impact on the cruelty the cow faced beforehand.

Another part of the fad is that these food choices automatically transform you into some sort of hipster/hippie. It completely gags me to see shirts in department stores saying something like “part time vegan” written in huge font.

I’d like to know when a lifestyle without animal products was considered admirable with a pair of jeans.

What I mainly realized was the look opposed the feel. People may see this food choice as a way to give off a certain vibe, but to me, what you feed your body has little effect on your personality.

The warm, feel-good sensation that comes along with vegetarianism should be a feeling in the body. Not from a cringe-worthy shirt or thought you just saved a piglet’s life.

I completely respect anyone who does maintain a vegetarian or vegan life for any reason or belief. About 3.2 percent of people in the U.S. follow a vegetarian diet, and 0.5 percent of them are vegan.

I see my experience solely as something I learned from, nonetheless a bet I won on behalf of Pinterest.