Growing up in the upper Midwest, eating a diet full of steaks, hamburgers and pork chops is normal... almost expected. It's what we do. But the food landscape in this country has changed in the last 10 years. More young people and adults are giving up meat and fish to become vegetarians. Vegans are stricter. They don't eat dairy. So no milk, eggs or even honey because honey comes from a living insect. We talked to a Sioux Falls woman who decided 14 years ago she could no longer eat animals.
Andie Bennett is your typical busy working mother. Typical in a sense that she re-learns every day that life's a great balancing act. When she was 16 she decided to become a vegetarian. Atypical for an area that prides itself on being hearty meat-eaters.
Andie says, "It actually happened pretty suddenly. I was eating a roast beef sandwich and I got grossed out thinking what that juicy meat was. I didn't want to eat meat anymore so I just stopped."
Living as a vegetarian for half her life, she has also learned to make sure she balances her diet. Something we all should probably work a little harder at doing.
Andie says, "When I was pregnant I really paid attention to the amount of protein I was getting. I breast feed also so I keep track of that still. Garden burgers have a lot of protein. Different pastas have extra protein. We also read a lot of labels and we read them carefully to make sure there's no chicken stock."
It's pretty easy to find vegetarian foods now-a-days. In the health market section of Hy-Vee you'll find all kinds of meals that are meat substitutes.Dietitians say just make sure you are getting enough protein or you may need to supplement with a multi-vitamin with iron.
Avera McKennan Dietitian Megan Woodraska works at the Hy-Vee Grocery Store on Marion Road in Sioux Falls. She says, " I think all of us need to focus more on produce and eat a little less meat. The new word for that is flexitarian. It's when you eat a plant based diet but occasionally eat meat. People who do that tend to be at a healthier weight and are at lower risk for heart disease and stroke."
Andie says her oldest, 2 year old Dylan, actually prefers the meat substitutes over their counterparts but that doesn't mean real corn dogs are off the table either.
Andie says, "My husband and I both grew up eating meat. A lot of people have found memories of hot dogs and pepperoni pizza and turkey at Thanksgiving so we're letting them eat what they want when they go to their grandparents. That way they can eat what everyone else is eating."
And if the day comes when Dylan or Max or both don't ever want to eat meat either, she says she and her husband will be supportive just like their parents were for them.