Meat is hard. It’s hard on the environment, my digestive system and (by extension) Vassar’s plumbing. But for the last year, I’ve been trying a radical new diet: vegetarianism. This is a complex concept, but I only ask that
everyone at least tries to be compassionate, even if the details aren’t fully comprehensible. Essentially, I eat no meat—neither beasts of the land nor beasts of the sea. I know what you’re all thinking: “Blair! How brave you are, how big a change you make in the world by no longer eating neither fish nor fowl!” And to that I respond: “Yes! I AM BRAVE!”
It hasn’t been an easy diet to maintain over the course of this school year. I’ve never cared for tempeh or seitan, and there’s a nasty rumor floating around that tofu raises your estrogen levels. I haven’t bothered to google this—but I’m not taking any chances. Unfortunately, these seem to be the only plant protein sources that the Deece is capable of serving. Unless you want to eat a black bean burger three times a day, options are limited. It took me a while to figure out a good system of eating, but I think I’ve conquered meat-free hunger in Vassar’s jungle of corporate-contracted dining services.
For those who want to remain on the meal plan and eat at the Deece regularly, you have to get creative. Even if you’re resorting to a salad for the millionth time that week, try to spice it up with a protein source you wouldn’t normally choose. The go-to at the salad bar is tofu and chickpeas, but traverse over to Coffee and Sweets, and you’ll find the protein-packed sunflower butter eagerly awaiting a place in your salad. It may come as a surprise, but sunbutter pairs quite nicely with spinach and ranch. Slap a big ole dollop on top the next time you’re tired of the same boring salad you make every single time. Day after day. After day. After day. After week.
You can find alternative ways to sustain yourself. Maybe you’re not hungry for food, maybe you’re actually hungry for, say, revenge or spiritual guidance. These are easy ways to a better diet: Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but it’s also something you can pursue single-mindedly allowing it to consume you. Spiritual guidance, on the other hand, is a direct solution to both emotional and physical hunger, since the Bayit cooks homemade vegan dinners every Friday for Shabbat.
A final way to approach the problem is some introspection: Why are you vegetarian in the first place? For many people, the answer lies in the horrific environmental impact of Big Meat. Animals are often kept inhumanely, and their waste pollutes the natural surroundings where they’re held captive. If this is you, get back to the roots of your dietary choice: nature. Don’t be afraid to forage. The campus proper is rich in twigs, bark and dirt. Although it’s a trek, the ecological preserve offers an even wider variety of grasses, mosses, rocks and even a branch or two. The options are truly endless, and a hunter-gatherer lifestyle is a fun and healthy way to release stress and escape from modern inconveniences, like grocery stores and refrigerators.
This guide is far from complete: there are many, many other vegetarian and vegan options offered by Vassar’s dining service. The Express, for example, occasionally has bananas. For students considering switching to veganism or vegetarianism, or simply scrounging to get by on what is already available, I hope I can make some small difference.