Lettuce Recall Disrupts Vegetarian’s Diet

Lettuce recall disrupts vegetarian’s die

Miami University sophomore Shelby Lau saunters into the crowded Chipotle Mexican fast-food chain.

Beef soaks in the juices giving it a spicy flavor. An employee throws the raw chicken on the grill and it sizzles. The carnitas are running low and waiting to be refilled. The full bin of black beans looks as if they haven’t been touched in a while.

She looks up at the menu even though she already knows what she’s going to get – the usual.

The employee asks Lau, “What can I get started for you?”

“I’d like a burrito bowl with black beans, brown rice, lettuce, pico, corn salsa, guac and cheese,” Lau said.

Lau doesn’t go for the sizzling, hot meat. She asks for the black beans.

It’s not because she doesn’t like their meat, it’s because she’s vegetarian.

In 2008, the documentary Food Inc. debuted, highlighting the unethical treatment of animals and how it affects the meat consumers are buying.

The documentary sparked her big decision to become vegetarian when she was a junior in high school.

“I love animals and I’m a huge advocate for animal rights,” Lau said. “I watched a few documentaries about the food industry and I did not like what I saw. I’m not necessarily talking about small family farms, but like big factory farms.”

The documentary’s synopsis states, “We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli – the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually.”

Currently, about 50 people are facing the effects of E. coli, according to NBC News. On April 15, iceberg lettuce was stripped from the shelves of grocery stores and restaurants nationwide due to a recent E. coli outbreak.

“It’s hard to tell where the lettuce comes from. Restaurants may know, but unless the restaurant can assure patrons that their romaine is not from Yuma, Arizona area, people should not eat it,” according to the article.

Despite the recall, Lau has discovered various recipes other than salads.

She first started cooking when she started her vegetarian diet because her family was still eating meat. Her favorite meal to make is a classic veggie burger. Except, she recently discovered a lentil burger recipe with her dad which has become her new preferred dinner.

“My dad is much more willing to eat vegetarian foods than my mom, so we try a lot of new recipes together,” Lau said.

While her family has acclimated to her meatless lifestyle, it’s “awkward” when she visits her friends. “I always feel bad when I go over to people’s houses and I can’t eat what their parents made because there’s meat in it,” Lau said.

But, she doesn’t always have to cook, especially since she’s found that restaurants have adopted more vegetarian options or can alter meals to make them without meat.

“You just have to be aware of what food restaurants are putting on your plate. I always look at reviews to make sure there’s nothing sketchy going on in their kitchen,” Lau said.

Putting a bite of pre-recall lettuce from her burrito bowl in her mouth, Lau is used to her vegetarian lifestyle. As a public health major, she knows plenty about the negative impacts meat can cause.

“There are a lot of health benefits to being vegetarian and not eating meat, specifically red meat. Animals used for meat are given lots of steroids, antibiotics and other chemicals that I don’t want in my body,” Lau said.

Lau is not the only one looking into the advantages of being vegetarian.

Lucy Harper, Lau’s roommate, became vegetarian during the winter break after their first semester at Miami. “I would say more of our friends are vegetarian than aren’t,” Harper said.

“It’s kind of nice because when I go places with them, we all have the same diet basically so we’re in it together,” Lau said.

Pausing, she scoops up the scraps in her burrito bowl.

“I feel like I’m doing some kind of good and helping animals.”

On her way out, with a full stomach, she sees a dog and bends down to pet it.