Skip to comments.My Week as a Vegan
Posted on 02/26/2009 2:16:10 PM PST by nickcarraway
I have no idea what possessed me.
Maybe it was the nearly violent debates that occur at least once a day in my living room. Maybe it was the popularity of our vegan/vegetarian dining houses. Maybe I just thought it would make a good story. Whatever the case, I decided that I would be a vegan for a week.
First of all, if you have read my past articles, you know that I am no meat-and-potatoes kind of girl. I am an absolute omnivore, with the pathetic exception of cucumbers. Fried rattlesnake? Fine. Cucumbers? Not so much. I sometimes even prefer a vegetarian option to meat, but I also hold the firm belief that bacon makes everything better.
I wanted to know why people choose this lifestyle and how hard it is for vegans to manage here at Smith. If there are any ideal times to try being a vegan, your time at Smith is one of them. Having transferred from a large university, I can tell you that with an entire dining hall devoted to vegan and vegetarian options, as well as the probable option in other houses, vegans at Smith really have it made. I can see why so many Smithies dabble in veganism at some point during their four years. Many see the conditions associated with meat and other forms of animal mass production as a problem, and thus choose the diet to do their part in making the world a more humane place. At Smith, it is hip to be a vegan.
I never fully understood why vegans tend to group together until this week, when I began eating at the Northrop/Gillett dining hall. The place is like a haven, a small enclave on campus where students can go to relate and revel in their veganism.
Northrop/Gillett does have some really good eats; the food is thoughtfully prepared and there is a surprising amount of variety. I would certainly eat there again. However, it only took me an afternoon to realize that the naturally vegan foods, such as soups and salads, legume dishes and stir-fry, are the items that are actually worth eating. As you learn in grammar school, you should always be yourself, rather than try to pretend to be someone you are not. When someone puts macaroni and cheese in front of me and tells me it is vegan, we have a problem.
There are a few reasons why vegan foods like to put on airs. For one, I learned that a vegan diet gets old, and it gets old fast. When you think about it, all vegans can really eat are fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and tofu. It is understandable that things need to be mixed up, thus the creation of the "ultimate" shepherd's pie, vegan chop suey and soy-gurt. In trying everything I could this week, I found that while the appropriate outer appearance is often there in vegan substitutes, there is just something about the texture and taste that is not quite right, making me want the real deal even more, rather than these ingredient imposters.
Secondly, I think that deep down inside, no vegan truly wants to be a vegan. I do not know anyone who chooses to become a vegan because they prefer the taste of tofu bacon to the real thing. You choose this lifestyle - and after a week of following a vegan diet, I say this with utmost respect - either for health reasons or because it is your way of making the world more sustainable and humane. That is great, but do not tell me that you don't miss mac-and-cheese, apple pie or Girl Scout cookies. Vegans need fake cake and meatless meatballs because it is as close as you can get to what used to be so good.
My worst part of the week was on Rally Day. The Hubbard dining hall pulled out all the stops. Smoked salmon with bagels and cream cheese, quiche, bacon and coffee cake - so much effort went into that brunch, and it looked beautiful. While my friends socialized and laughed over full plates of what was clearly a special treat, I moodily stabbed at my oatmeal, ready to head over to Northrop so I could sit with my fellow vegans and brood in our shared self-righteousness - or self-pity - while we ate our tofu-scramble.
Food is a social entity, meant to be shared and enjoyed with others. It was then that I knew why vegans gather together in Northrop/Gillett. And if I planned on continuing a vegan diet, I would join them.
I want to be clear that neither the vegan nor the non-vegan diet is better than the other. Both have their positive attributes and both are flawed. I like ice cream and enjoy a good steak. I do not like being gassy all the time. That does not necessarily make me environmentally inferior to anyone else. I do my part in other ways such as recycling or supporting my local farmer - or my high school custodian who hunts deer in my backyard. I love food far too much to give any of it up.
For me, food is also a way for me to learn about other countries and traditions. I love how food evolves, how immigrants will bring their comfort dishes to their new country, fusing them with other cuisines as they are introduced to different ingredients and methods.
When I entered the world of veganism, I felt as though I had been closed off from a large sector of the rest of the food world. Vegan food can be shared, but it cannot receive outside influences, unless it is in imitation form, because of its severe limitations. It is exclusive, and without a social network, it is downright lonely. So thanks for sharing, vegans of Smith, but this Reeses that I am eating right now is absolutely divine.
I used to be a vegetarian, until I started leaning towards the light!
I am 1/7 vegan.
I’m a vaginatarian
“Vegan” must be code for “lesbian” in this article.
Baby back ribs, or tofu salad....hmmmmm....give me a second to think of this.
I spent two weeks among a group that included many vegans. My take was that there was pride and arrogance involved. They hung out together to lie and be lied to. Starving was a badge of honor. Pride in starving was to hide the general misery of merely being an inferior sort.
Lesbians are meat eaters by definition.
Veganism is a lot of things.
Mental illness, masochism, child abuse...
healthy is not one of them.
” Vegan must be code for lesbian in this article.”
That’s what I thought “The Smith College Sophian” meant, until I realized it would be “Saphist” or similar.
I guess “The Smith College Muncher” would be too vulgar.
I suspect all the women at the Northrop/Gillett dining hall have hairy armpits.
It's a political ideology, not a nutritional decision
“I am 1/7 vegan.”
I am a semi-veg - I only eat dead animals - no living meat whatsoever.
somehow i get the feeling that most vegans are for show and secretly eat meat and dairy when they think nobody is watching
To the best of my knowledge, and someone please correct me if I am wrong, there has never been a civilization on Earth that is totally vegetarian.
The reason is brainlessly simple. Following the “10 mile” rule, which is defined as the distance a man or woman can travel on foot (each way) on a daily basis, there is no place on earth where their are a sufficient variety of non-meat products to make a healthy diet.
People can and do eat healthy as vegetarians, but they do that by supplementing what they can get locally with things that are not available within that 10 mile radius of where they live.
That might be interesting. I'd like to see what they do when I open up a big ole to-go box of mouth watering slow-smoked pork ribs slathered with tangy bar-b-que sauce. I'd engage them in conversation, nodding my head and say, "My, isn't that interesting. You sat up in that tree for how long?" as I dabbed the sauce from my chin with a napkin and raised the next pork rib to my waiting lips.
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