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After reading a book while on a road trip in early 2009, a Sedona teen decided to drastically change her life.

“I completely changed how I ate. My mom and I had already decided to get healthier so I read ‘The China Study.’ I learned a lot of Chinese people who eat a lot of vegetarian food live longer, healthier and with fewer diseases. That won me over,” Paige Morris said.

Morris hopes that eating vegetarian-style food will also help her pay for college. She is using her knowledge to earn a scholarship.

vegetarian-scholarship-2-10Beginning her new regimen was difficult because she had to determine how much protein she needed and how to obtain that from plant foods. Morris researched for her age, height and weight and found out how to combine vegetable foods for whole protein her body can use.

Morris stays away from meat and most dairy products, which is contrary to what the rest of the family eats.

“My family, they’re huge carnivores so it’s hard to eat with them. They tease me about being an herbivore,” she said. “They support me though.”

When her family is having hamburgers on the grill, Morris is eating her favorite black bean burgers and hummus made from garbanzo beans, sesame butter — tahini, garlic and olive oil, with a little salt and lemon.

“I have a list of what I can eat, what I should eliminate and what I need to avoid taped in my closet so I can check it when I get dressed,” Morris said. “It’s fun to experiment with recipes, but sometimes the house smells of garlic.”

In addition to reading “The China Study” a recent movie about cooking, “Julie & Julia,” inspired Morris to cook with more flair and color.

“Vegetables are very colorful. They aren’t just green or brown. Look at tomatoes, carrots, peppers, squashes, beans and grains. They’re full of color,” Morris said.

Morris has eaten a vegetarian diet for about 10 months. She has noticed some changes such as feeling more energetic and not so heavy. Morris has also lost about seven pounds, even though she was not overweight.

Morris is using her education about vegetarian eating and putting it to use for her college education. She is in her junior year as a home-schooled student and is taking online college classes from Grand Canyon University. Morris is trying to earn one of two $5,000 a year scholarships from the Vegetarian Resource Group.

“I have to promote vegetarianism in the community and write an essay about my success and challenges,” Morris said. “I set up a Facebook and Twitter for Sedona vegetarians. People can read about what I’m doing,” Morris said.

Morris has a booth set up at the Sedona Community Farmers Market on Airport Mesa each Sunday and has produced a flier she distributes at local restaurants and grocery stores. At the farmers market Morris will have some recipes and fliers for people and will talk about the scholarship.

She knows something is working because some people who had seen her flier asked her father if Paige Morris was his daughter.

Morris’ goal is to attend Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. She hopes they have a vegetarian group there but, if not, she will start one.

“I plan to continue my vegetarian lifestyle and my blogging about being a vegetarian college student,” she said.

Morris’ vision for the community is for meat eaters to be exposed to some great food, medical facts and the joy of the vegetarian lifestyle that will keep them coming back for more. She wants to share the benefits of the diet with people who may be unaware of all the many beneficial factors of a plant-based diet.

Morris needs the community’s help. Follow Sedona Vegetarians on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @SedonaVeggies or visit her Web site, Sedonavegetarians.com.

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