By Chanah Haddad
Deciding what to eat for lunch shouldn’t be a process of elimination, where every day of the week there are only two or three suitable choices for a vegan. Foods consisting of dairy, eggs, honey and meat are all out. This essentially leaves me with fruit, bread, the salad bar, or a bag of “cafeteria-healthy” chips.
I’m not complaining. It is ultimately my choice to be a selective eater. But this doesn’t change the fact that it’s difficult for vegans to stay satisfied throughout the school day. I think my fellow veggie-enthusiasts will agree: unless we bring food from home, we’re basically screwed at lunchtime.
The second meal of the day is not made more pleasant when people comment on my admittedly unconventional choices. “But, why?” is the most immediate reaction. Then, there usually comes some distortion of the phrases, “Don’t you know that humans are meant to eat animals?” Or “Is that even healthy?” Or “How can you possibly stay full?”
As for the first two questions, I’m vegan for many reasons. I’ve never liked the taste or smell or even the idea of meat. And no, I am actually not oblivious to the fact that we are born with canines meant for ripping apart animal flesh. But for me, the concept of consuming the product of another animal’s existence actually seems, converse to the beliefs of my omnivorous friend, inhumane.
As for health, it is true that if you do not properly compensate for the lack of protein, calcium and other key nutrients; veganism is not healthy. However, it has also been proven that vegans have less of a chance of developing, among other things, high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart disease, obesity, kidney failure, osteoporosis and cancer.
Finally, I don’t stay full. But when I have more control over my meals, it’s really not very difficult. The cafeteria should work harder to supply delicious and animal-friendly options. With appropriate substitutions and adjustments, almost every dish can be distorted to fit a vegan. For instance, when we have tostadas, we could use shells that don’t contain eggs. Also, it would make it easier if the menus said which pastas contain eggs and/or dairy and which breads are Omega-3 enriched (which can contain fish oil). When the vegetarian option is pasta with cream or cheese sauce, the cafeteria should keep the sauce on the side and have a marinara option as well. I’m not trying to convert anyone to veganism, but it would be nice to have more options and less opposition around lunchtime.