When we think of things that are trending, our brains bounce to TOMS, “Words With Friends” and maybe even Ricky Gervais, but we bypass society’s constantly altering preoccupation with special foods (quinoa and coconut oil come to mind). @hipstermermaid tweeted it just right, further pinning himself down as a comedic and self-loathing liberal: “I accidentally ate some quinoa while listening to NPR and now I drive a Prius.”

The point here is not to make fun of people who make quinoa instead of rice and use soy beverages instead of milk — I cooked a quinoa dinner just the other night. I was pretty damn proud and delighted with the product, and I no longer consume dairy without a Lactaid pill. The idea is to simply call attention to the food quirks of today.

Lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, veganism, vegetarianism and pescetarianism: five-too-many reasons to stay away from a delicious cheeseburger, bun included? And for what reason? Well, I’m learning that, actually, there are many valid and convincing reasons to stay away from that mouth-watering item (not that I have totally gotten to that place yet).

Let’s begin with the cheese “topping” that seems truly essential while devouring. Sad news: Humans would likely benefit from ceasing to consume dairy after the breastfeeding period, as 75-percent of the world’s population is estimated to be lactose-deficient. According to Medline Plus, approximately 30 million Americans have some variant amount of lactose intolerance by age 20.

It’s possible to not realize that you’re a malabsorber of lactose until later in life. As a malabsorber, you can train your body to be tolerant of dairy, so that while you may not be having the typical gassy symptoms, you also won’t be absorbing the nutrients that are positively connected to dairy products. It’s when you decrease your intake of dairy and then go back to it that you may realize you’re an intolerant malabsorber who should start purchasing non-dairy cream cheese and taking Lactaid Fast Act pills with irresistible items like Annie’s Mac & Cheese.

Next is the meat of the meal, the meat. Our bodies don’t need the protein from meat nearly as much as Americans think. There’s an expansive list of reasons for not eating meat, including global citizenship that encompasses environmental friendliness, the idea that animals are equal to humans and a strong distaste for the cruel and unnatural conduct of the food industry.

My sister’s explanation was simple, but keeps her away from all meats that are neither free-range nor fish: “I will eat organic, free-range white meat that doesn’t have antibiotics or hormones. I’ve learned about what the food industry is like and how the animals are raised and kept, and it grosses me out that I consume that. It’s really just that I’ll eat clean, healthy meat, but it’s not that readily available in my (college) life.”

A phrase that would be typical among vegetarians who are comfortable with bending the rules a bit is something like, “Don’t worry, the animal only had one bad day,” meaning it was a healthy animal that avoided abuse. That might do the trick for some, but for others, the consumption of the animal in this scenario is just as offensive and unjust as the meat of the food industry at large.

We all know one thing more about life in the context of food — girls (and guys) just want to have (a peek at) bun(s) — except for those with gluten intolerance. I know some people that discovered it through hereditary concerns, and others via thinking it was IBS, and then proceeded to keep a food diary and edit foods out of their diet until discovering what made them feel well. I’ve even read that there are a number of celebrities who have removed gluten from their diet to get skinny and healthy. Stars as loved as Zooey Deschanel and Victoria Beckham (Posh, if you prefer) have converted to the gluten-free way, with most of them describing it as invigorating and a nudge toward that unrealistic size zero.

People making trendy food choices derived from physiological intolerances or disagreements with the healthiness of certain edible items are easy to poke fun at for eating “hipster” meals — tempeh burger and rice milk, possibly — but it’s not an uprising of non-dairy, non-gluten and vegetarian foods without reason. I’m unsure if I’ll ever say a hard-and-fast goodbye to an In-N-Out omnivore lifestyle, but I’m in mighty full support of others’ adherence to dietary restrictions. Trendy owners of happier-than-average intestines and bodies, rejoice!

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