By Zoey Maleekah LaChance
“Are you crazy? You’re going to die!”
These were the words my best friend told me when I first announced that I was going to attempt to be vegan at Drew. Of course, these were the same words people told me when I said I was a vegetarian at Drew. A little bit of backstory: I’m from Vermont, where everyone is conscious about where their food is coming from and is more likely to go to the farmers’ market on Saturday than go to church on Sunday. I have always been highly aware about where the food I am putting in my body comes from, especially after I realized that meat proteins were the primary reason behind my debilitating chronic migraines. After cutting meat out of my diet, I went from having four migraines a week to about one a month and also educated myself about the cruelty behind the meat industry.
I’ve been vegetarian for about five years now, but kept on eating eggs and milk without really thinking about what happens to the chickens and cows that produce those products. (I won’t get into detail here, but if you’re interested, please educate yourself by watching Farm to Fridge on YouTube.) I immediately realized that while I was at Drew, I had no clue where my food was coming from or how the animals were treated. At home, I was able to support farmers who had more natural practices and didn’t abuse their animals for their eggs and milk. As such, I made the decision to eat as vegan as possible while at Drew because I do not want to support the cruelty and oppression that Aramark and Drew willingly support. At first I looked at this as a limitation: no cheese, no milk, no omelets, no ice cream? How was I ever going to survive? Then I realized something absolutely amazing: I could eat as much pasta as I want. Most “diets” that our current culture promote encourage smaller portions that are low carb, low sugar, and high animal protein. Since human cells run on glucose, people on these restrictive diets begin to crave and eat large amounts of processed carbs and sugars. This kind of starving and binging is not healthy for our bodies and it is training the younger generation that they cannot eat until they are full and satisfied.
Obviously the ethical side of veganism is more important to me personally, but these kind of nutritional facts often encourage people to at least cut down on the amount of animal proteins they have in their life. So, how am I eating vegan at Drew? Quite easily, actually! I smuggle a lot of fruit out of the Commons, especially bananas, which I either eat whole or mash up for a faux smoothie in the morning. The vegetable sushi roll at the EC has become a personal lunch favorite along with some smuggled pears and peanut butter. For dinner, pasta with plain red sauce and vegetables, fried rice or noodles, even the taco salad option I had last night was easily vegan. There are dairy free options for ice cream (including Ben and Jerry’s!), cheese, and faux meat products now that taste great, are cruelty free, and most vegan foods are much cheaper than animal proteins. And the cherry on the vegan sundae is I can eat as much as I want! Contrary to popular belief, I am rarely hungry or tired, with no dependence on caffeine to make it through my day. In fact, this lifestyle, in addition to my regular workout routine and the proper dietary supplements, has left me feeling energized and better than ever.
I still have issues with the workers at Commons pressuring me to eat meat as well as the process of asking for food in general due to my panic disorder, but overall, I am now happier with what I eat knowing I am no longer unwillingly supporting cruelty at Drew. Obviously this lifestyle is not for everyone, and there may be some people who are saying that I am preaching veganism. I’m not. At home, I will still support my local cruelty-free farms. But at Drew, where the food is skeptical to begin with, I believe we should all have extra awareness of what we are putting into our bodies.
Zoey is a Junior Art Major and a Film/Media Studies, Photography and Writing Minor
Graphic By: Dominique Butler