Caroline’s Column: The Vegan Mentality

By: Caroline Roethlisberger

So far, I’ve written a lot about the struggles of finding tasty vegan and vegetarian options on campus. Besides meal options, one of the most difficult aspects of fulfilling a sustainable diet is maintaining consistency and refusing temptations. The mental hardships are undoubtedly a recurring obstacle that I have found on my sustainable diet journey; however, I have discovered a few mindset changes that have helped me overcome these obstacles.

Firstly, establish your purpose. Whether it’s to pursue a healthier diet, a more green, environmentally-friendly lifestyle, for the love of the animals or all of the above, determine why you want to stop eating animal products. Without a purpose, it is often difficult to remain devoted to the cause.

Secondly, don’t approach the vegan or vegetarian diet hoping to replace all meat and/or dairy products with alternative substitutes. I’ve found that many meat or dairy substitutes have unappetizing tastes and textures, which makes the overall eating experience daunting and unpleasant. For example, I find alternative cheese options repulsive. I do admit that non-dairy yogurt and milk options that are soy or almond based are actually pretty tasty. Instead, try to find creative meals that already taste amazing without having to substitute meat or dairy. Believe it or not, salads can still taste delicious without cheese and ranch! At the dining halls and in Armstrong, the vegan salad dressing options usually include Italian, raspberry and balsamic dressings and tons of topping options.

Thirdly, find ways to make eating easy and fun. The purpose of this column is to aid in this endeavor, because making the physical eating process more enjoyable helps minimize overwhelming mental obstacles. I’ve found easy, delicious staples in my diet that do not require much thought or time to acquire. For example, when I’m at Armstrong, I’ll grab the vegan spinach salad with Italian dressing from the Emporium and some fruit. When I’m at the dining hall, I’ll make my own. Another one of my favorite go-to dining hall meals is my own version of a Chipotle bowl. Starting with a bowl of rice, I then top it with corn and salsa from the salsa bar at Western Dining Hall. The salad bar also has great toppings like lettuce, corn and other vegetables. For dessert, the dining halls have been serving vegan molasses cookies! I just tried one the other day, and they have a perfect flavor for fall. If you have any favorite dining hall staples- let us know!

Photo by Caroline Roethlisberger

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