Being a Vegetarian When the Odds are Against You

I have been a vegetarian for a little over two years. This diet and lifestyle are very rewarding for my health and the environment. However, avoiding meat is not always easy. Going out to restaurants has proved to be quite challenging. Menus often only have 2 vegetarian entrée options, one of which is usually a large salad. And eating on campus is usually just as frustrating. Occasionally, the vegan station will have very well-prepared food, other times, the noodles are cold, the portions are small, and the options are limited. Before coming to campus, I was considering transitioning to vegan, but due to the lack of choices for vegetarians, I have no idea how I would regularly eat. After dealing with these issues for two years, here are some suggestions to help. 

 

Contact Your Campus’ Dining Services 

Although this doesn’t always result in much action, it is worthwhile to reach out to someone who is in charge of the food you are being served. 

 

Get Creative 

A little more work than a grab-and-go plate but it helps in desperate times. When there is nothing good to eat, I spruce up a sandwich of vegan swiss, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles; not a meal fit for a queen, but it gets the job done. Another option is to combine some of the things that are being served. My boyfriend has previously taken something from the vegan station and the main line and made something actually worth eating. 

 

Ask for Alternatives 

If you’re going out to eat and the best thing on the menu is chicken parmesan, ask if they have an eggplant alternative, if not, request that your bill be reduced for the lack of meat. I do this quite frequently and I receive the discount (meat is most of the cost, so why pay for something you’re not eating??) 

 

Carry Lots of Snacks and To-Go Containers 

If your campus or local restaurant offers an online menu and you don’t believe there will be many options for you, pack some snacks. I always have snack size chips in my dorm just in case. Next to the chips is a mountain of to-go containers. I grab one of these when going out if there’s something small I like in the dining hall. 

Unfortunately, being vegan/ vegetarian comes with a price. Although there should not be a large challenge when finding meat-free foods, mainstream culture has made this a reality. Hopefully these tips work for you during your bad dining experiences.