Experimenting with Veganism
Health consciousness for the starving college student.
By Daniel Nguyen, Wharton County Junior College
In recent years, health consciousness has exploded onto the market.
Now, as college students walk to the nearest fast food joint for their late night calorie intakebomb, they are guilted by rows of health stores and vitamin shops. At many restaurants, or at the least the trendy ones, vegan options have started appearing as alternatives to the usually animal-loaded dishes of yesteryear.
But in college, an environment in which meat goes unidentified and mayo unrefrigerated, it’s hard to embrace any diet that doesn’t make concessions to convenience. Students are incredibly busy, and any healthy solution that promises results in exchange for time is, unfortunately, an unviable option.
Unfortunately, it’s even harder to escape the guilt-tripping faculties of documentaries such as “Food Inc.” or “Vegucated.” When visions of animal cruelty dance in your head, you give a litlte more consideration to the vegan mayonnaise when you’re out at lunch.
But going completely cold turkey on things like cheese, cheeseburgers and cheese-anything can be a hard decision to make. Luckily, the transition from a typical American diet to a vegan one has been the topic for many a struggling video blogger: Resources abound for the cheap, lazy and experimentally inclined college student.
While giving up your beloved balls of mozzarella and pounds of shredded parmesan might have to wait till you’re a bit more advanced, a little goes a long way in the realm of healthy diets. That means when giving up something unhealthy in your usual diet, you get a sliver of food redemption in exchange. That way, little by little, you can start to repair your own perpetually wrecked conscious.
Candy and Sweets
Living with a vegan can often be a challenge, but candy never is. Often free of animal-related products, candy provides happiness in easy to consume packages. Nothing speaks to childhood memories like the over-consumption of sugar packed treats. Although this habit might not score very high on the health spectrum, the likelihood of trespassing on the strict terms of veganism are very low.
Of course there are candies that do have animal products in their formulas, but it’s easy enough to avoid these by simply looking at labels and marking ingredients like milk or gelatin. Fortunately, there are tons of vegan-friendly candies out there that aren’t made of sandalwood and plastic. So the next time you’re unsure of what to eat with your vegan friend, or in the first few stages of your transition, take a reprieve from your sense of deprivation and stuff your face full of Twizzlers, Sour Patch Kids and/or lollipops.
Milk and Eggs
One of the hardest food categories to abstain from, avoiding dairy can be an almost impossible challenge for the first time vegan. As the threshold from vegetarianism to veganism, cutting out dairy also signals the no-turning-back-point in healthy diets.
Milk alone finds itself in the vast majority of chocolate products, and eggs are prominently featured in the ingredients of most mayonnaise and sauces. Together they make up an integral part of the non-vegan’s conception of breakfast food. In fact, barring toast and orange juice, breakfast for the American diet is full of non-vegan friendly foods—from bacon to butter to eggs.
Luckily, alternatives to the dairy-laden meals of the early mornings are easy to come by.
Instead of butter and toast, a good fruit jam can suffice. Most if not all major supermarkets are now stocking alternatives to cow milk. Replacements include almond milk, cashew milk, and even coconut milk.
Meat and Meat and Meat
Probably the most unavoidable challenge in the transition from non-veganism to veganism, meat is often the reason vegans give up animal products in the first place. From beef to pork to chicken, the popular meats of the world are nearly ubiquitous in the functions of corporate customer enticement.
Finding a way to avoid the draw of advertising from fast food giants like McDonalds can be hard for nascent vegans. But at the same time, the choice to go vegan often sprouts from a specific discontent with the meat industry, whether with their mass production methods or treatment of animals. As a result, advertisements from fast food giants can actually affirm a struggling vegan’s convictions, as the ads only support the idea that food conglomerates are trying to control over your diet.
But for the more noncommittal vegan, or that one vacillating friend who’s constantly experimenting with the next big trend in alternative lifestyles, advertisements for meat of any kind can be a sure fire way to fail early on. The simplest way to avoid these methods of enticement is to fall into the mindset of more adamant vegans, constructing a framework with a built in justification system.
Not eating meat can be hard for the body that’s been fine tuned to appreciate it, but like the rest of the vegan diet, not eating meat is a commitment to not doing a specific thing. That’s why the vegan diet, or any other diet that abstains from particular foods, is perfect for the lazy and noncommittal college student—their very essence lies in not having to do something.