For me, the decision to become a vegetarian was easy. When I put together my personal values, my religious beliefs and my health goals, the logical conclusion seemed to be to cut meat out of my diet.
The hardest part was sticking to it.
The difficulty didn’t come from food cravings — although I will admit, I sometimes get a hankering for Chick-fil-a — as much as it came from food availability.
During the first few weeks, I was shocked at how few options were really available. It seemed like no restaurant I ate at was aware that entrees didn’t have to include meat. I was stuck eating side dishes most of the time.
Fortunately, many cultures use meat more sparingly than Americans and I was pleased to be able to order plenty of vegetarian meals from Indian, Japanese, Chinese and Mexican restaurants. The worst part was paying for it out of pocket.
Over the fall semester, my meal swipes were hardly used after breakfast. Although I could make a salad or a sandwich everyday for lunch and dinner, or maybe go for some cheese pizza, I did not feel like there were many exciting options on campus for those of us who avoid meat. And even less for vegans, who cannot eat meat, dairy, eggs or honey.
When I returned to school this semester, I began to notice a change in the dining options on campus. Every other day, extensive options beyond the normal salad bar are offered.
Almost every day, the Pit has a hot entree specifically made for vegetarians and vegans at the “Action Station.”
Since returning to campus, I’ve eaten vegan enchiladas, vegetarian tacos, potato aloo, Moroccan curried vegetable stew a and a lot of other good vegetarian food. I realize that this isn’t a big change from before — there have always been a few meatless dishes available daily — but it was definitely noticeable.
Before, I felt like my diet was an inconvenience.
Now, it seems more like an accommodation the administration of the school is willing to make. More than that, it’s seriously good food.
Almost all of my friends are meat-eating, but they go for the vegetarian option, too.
Here’s a little-known fact: vegetarians are so tired of salads. It is refreshing to be able to get a hot, filling, varied meal every day.
The bottom line is this — over the past few weeks, many vegetarian students on campus have been noticing these little changes. Although they are subtle, they are important.
I believe that including vegetarian and vegan options is not only ethically and environmentally friendly, but creates a more inclusive community to vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians and anyone who avoids certain meats for religious reasons, such as eating kosher or halal.
With food being such an important part of social life, Wake Forest has made great strides in recognizing that it is important that everyone feels as if they have options.