There are a number of reasons why an MSU student might decide to lead a vegetarian lifestyle, whether for health, ethical or religious reasons. The kinds of vegetarianism are also as varied as the people who choose to follow them.
For the next week, I’m going to try to lead the life of a lacto-ovo vegetarian. This means I will not eat any poultry, fish or red meat but will continue to eat dairy and egg products. The goal is to see what challenges and benefits vegetarians on campus encounter while living and eating on campus.
To give you an idea of what I’m eating, I’m keeping a daily food diary. Today’s list includes everything I’ve eaten between Sunday morning and Monday evening. I have to admit it’s not much, which is something to work on, but whatever I’ve had is on this list:
Day 1 and 2:
- Teddy Grahams
- Pita bread
- Quesadilla with cheese, black beans, and tomatoes
- Ensure shakes
- Goldfish crackers
- Cheese pizza
- Apple juice
I’ve only been a vegetarian for about a day and a half, but I’ve already encountered a couple obstacles. The first is being hungry again within an hour of eating. The second is the joys of Brody’s late night cafeteria offerings.
My primary problem with staying full is probably due to the reduction of complex proteins in my diet. Complex proteins come from meat and help people feel full because they take the body longer to digest. Plant-derived foods, like the cliché vegetarian salad staple, only contain simple proteins. Unless two different simple proteins are combined in a meal, the body can’t form complex proteins like those that come from meat. Learn more about the types of vegetarianism and ways to incorporate all essential nutrients, like protein, into a vegetarian diet at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vegetarian-diet/HQ01596.
The point is, just eating a salad or having a banana won’t keep anyone full. Unless I, for example, eat hummus, which is made from protein-rich chickpeas, and protein-laden black beans (from a quesadilla), throughout the day, I’ll likely starve for the next week.
The second challenged I’ve encountered with my new lifestyle is foraging for food in the jungle of Brody Complex’s late night cafeteria. Those who have had the unique pleasure of dining in the cafeteria past 8 p.m. know all about the greasy delights on display: nachos, hot dogs, french fries, pizza and everything else you probably shouldn’t be eating close to bedtime.
And there’s not a single green thing in sight, unless you count the jalapenos on the hot dogs. So what’s a vegetarian to do? Personally, I settled on a couple of slices of greasy cheese pizza and french fries. Not the best solution but all I could think of when my stomach was growling. In case you’re in the same situation and want to plan your meals for the week in advance, you can go to the Eat at State Web site at eatatstate.com. That way, if you have a meal plan, you can sift through the menu of the nearest cafeteria and find which vegetarian entrees will be offered this week. Tomorrow, Brody’s cafeteria is serving grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup, so that’s where I’ll be.
Not to sound pessimistic, but I feel like I haven’t really had the opportunity to experience vegetarian dining to the fullest yet. So far I’ve experienced more disadvantages than advantages, but I’m optimistic. It may take a couple days but I’m sure I’ll figure out some tips and tricks to maintain a balanced diet while saying no to meat on MSU’s campus.