#OutrageousOctober: My Meatless Week

30 Oct

no-meat

In my life I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve never had any major dietary restrictions. I can eat almost anything I want and not have to think twice about the ingredients, so coming to college last year I never had to worry about what I could or couldn’t eat on campus. However, I realize that this isn’t the reality for countless students. Coming to a school with only a finite amount of food options with a major, or even minor, dietary restriction can be nerve wracking. That’s why for Outrageous October I decided to see what it was like to eat on campus without eating meat for a week, since vegetarianism is such a common diet.

My initial impression from my week-long experiment was that eating on campus with a diet restriction was harder than I initially thought it would be. Personally, I’m a really picky eater so there’s a lot of things I choose not to eat simply because I don’t like them. Adding on a vegetarian restriction really limited my options. Some things didn’t change. I could still get my regular salad order from Core. I could still eat my daily breakfast of either a bagel or a granola bar. My typical snacks of dried fruit, yogurt, or cottage cheese didn’t change. But I noticed that there were some places on campus that I ate at quite often that I had to either completely change my regular order or cut that place out entirely. I couldn’t eat Chick-fil-A, a guilty pleasure of mine. My options at Cactus Grill were severely limited from what they used to be. If I wanted a sandwich at On Deck Deli, I had to do veggies only, something that I definitely wasn’t fond of. I realized I really had to think about what I was going to eat next, rather than just grabbing whatever was easiest. On the plus side though, I found new things that I never would have taken the time to try had I not done this experiment. I had some amazing black bean enchiladas at Cactus Grill, an awesome flatbread from PSU, and tried variations on different things I never would have thought of before.

Although eating vegetarian on campus was harder than I thought it would be, I realized that it was also definitely doable. While I obviously had less options, I realized that a lot of the time it was my pickiness or unwillingness to try something new that limited me more than the actual number of options I had. I also found out that a lot of places are willing to either make small alterations to menu items or offered a decent selection of meat-free options. While going vegetarian would obviously be much easier to do if I was cooking all my own meals at home in a fully stocked kitchen, it was still completely possible, especially if I was fully dedicated to becoming vegetarian.

My advice to students with dietary restrictions would be to not worry that you won’t have enough options to eat, because you most likely will. There are so many different places to eat on campus and most places update their menus occasionally as well. While you might have to plan a little extra or go out of your way to look at ingredients and find out what you can or can’t have, but it’ll pay off in the end. As for me, I probably won’t be going full vegetarian any time soon. This was a great experience though and I’m glad I got to experience something a little outside of my norm.

-Jessica

food-heart

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