Give Me Meat or Give Me Death

Eating vegan for a week was singularly the most frustrating experience I have had on this campus to date. I love a challenge, but I never would have guessed the sheer amount of animal products I consume in a week. It felt like I couldn’t eat anything and whenever I felt there was no way there were any animal products in my food, I would be proved wrong. This is a pervasive problem and 43% of former vegan/vegetarians cite difficulties with keeping meat and animal- based products out of their diets (Herzog, 2014). The three pivotal things I had difficulties with this week were restaurants, the cafeteria, and hanger.

Cafeteria

My experience with the cafeteria can best be described as scavenging. Nothing was safe. I avoided the cafeteria when I could, especially since the vegan station infamously serves vegetarian food instead of vegan. Luckily, I didn’t have any issues. However, that station was only open Monday through Thursday and the only other nonmeat option was cereal. I learned quickly that cereals are hotly contested in the vegan community because of vitamin D which is derived from sheep’s wool grease (Morley, 2018). There was a lot of conflicting information online about which cereals contained it and whether or not it was considered vegan. The only cereal the cafeteria had that did not contain it was Captain Crunch so that and soy milk was my main cafeteria stable.

Restaurants 

I would describe restaurants as more of an investigative research project than a dining experience. I spent the whole time before and during looking up vegan options. All the dishes I thought were safe had little things in it like fish oil, D3, or even shrimp labeled as imitation crab! Restaurant accommodations are few and far between since only 6% of United States citizens identify as a vegan (Chiorando, 2017). In terms of attitudes, my parents were confused about both the assignment and the implications of veganism.

I don’t think my family fully understood what veganism meant. As Catholics, my family has never seen fish as “real” meat, so they invited me to a seafood restaurant when they visited that weekend. The SINGULAR non-meat option on the menu was red beans and rice. While my mom was supportive of the “diet” she thought I was on, she asked me several times not to ask for non-meat options to not “embarrass” us. Luckily, my dad is a receptacle for unwanted food, so he took all the meat I had to pick out.

I had to explain several times the difference between veganism and vegetarianism which is not uncommon given veganism has taken off as a trend in the past few years (Chiorando, 2017). Further, my parents saw it as more of an embarrassing “liberal millennial fad” than a dietary choice. On average, veganism is associated more with young liberal-aligned youth than conservative or moderate voters (McCarthy, 2018). On Sunday, my parents did bring me to a “vegan friendly” restaurant.

The restaurant was a high-end with higher end prices. They had 2 vegan dishes and soy- milk creamer. The waitress was very interested in my project and actually did a 6 month no dairy diet to help her son who found out he had severe lactose intolerance. I got a breakfast bowl with vegan eggs, quinoa, avocado, and vegan thousand island dressing. Even though it didn’t taste like much, it felt nice not to have to worry about every solitary ingredient. The price, however, was worrying.

The price of the vegan options was pretty high, my order being 13 dollars before tax. The most common complaint about vegan/vegetarian options is the lack of cost-effectiveness (López- Alt, 2018). The pricey-ness comes from two major sources: vegetables and prep time (López-Alt, 2018). Vegetables cost a lot of money, even in bulk, and are harder to prepare than meat accounting for the inflated price (López-Alt, 2018). This makes veganism less accessible to the general public which might be why so few people commit to it or stick to it long term (Herzog, 2014).

Hanger

The hardest part of the week was dealing with hunger. Since I had so few options and was consuming significantly less calories than usual, I had a very bad case of hanger, anger from hunger. I never felt satisfied by the vegan food and my picky eating habits didn’t give me a lot of options. My hanger was extensively apparent. I had a short fuse, no patience, and got frustrated easily. Those closest people to me tried to be understanding, but I still got under their skin. I hope they forgive my crankiness.
Returning to Carnivore Life

Almost immediately after class, I ate two slices meat lover’s cafeteria pizza, a peppermint muffin, eggs, and nachos. It tasted amazing since I had been looking forward to it all week. I didn’t expect to be bone aching-ly exhausted 20 minutes later. I was so tired I wasn’t coherent, and I couldn’t focus on the conversations I was having. Then I had persistent gastrointestinal problems for several days following which was a fantastic time. I wasn’t aware that I was supposed to ease myself back into eating meat in order not to send my body into what I like to call “meat shock,” (Forrest 2018). I will admit I don’t have the resources or the patience to ease myself into anything. This week has taught me a good deal about being conscious of the magnitude of animal products that I, and the people around me, consume on a daily basis. I feel like this diet would have been easier if I prepared my own food and had more money to spend. As this trend towards plant-based food continues, I hope that veganism becomes more accessible for the average consumer in the future.

References

Chiorando, M. (2017, June 26). Veganism Skyrockets by 600% In America to 6% Of Population, Claims Report. Retrieved November 6, 2018, from https://www.plantbasednews.org/post/veganism-skyrockets-by-600-in-americ... 6-of-population

Forrest, C. (2018, October 31). Eight Tips for Reintroducing Meat After Being Vegetarian. Retrieved November 6, 2018, from https://www.cleaneatingkitchen.com/how-to-reintroduce- meat-vegan/

Herzog, H. (2014, December 2). 84% of Vegetarians and Vegans Return to Meat. Why? Retrieved November 6, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/animals-and-us/201412/84- vegetarians-and-vegans-return-meat-why

López-Alt, J. K. (2018, August 10). Why Is My Vegan Entree as Expensive as the Meat? Retrieved November 6, 2018, from https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/03/menu-pricing-vegan-vegetarian- meat.html

McCarthy, N. (2018, August 06). Who Are America's Vegans and Vegetarians? [Infographic]. Retrieved November 6, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2018/08/06/who- are-americas-vegans-and-vegetarians-infographic/#704c418e211c

Morley, K. (2018, May 08). Popular cereals contain sheep’s wool grease and are unsuitable for vegans. Retrieved November 6, 2018, from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/08/popular-cereals-contain-shee... unsuitable-vegans/

Oberst, L. (2018, May 07). Vegan Statistics: Why the Global Rise in Plant-Based Eating Isn't A Fad. Retrieved November 6, 2018, from https://foodrevolution.org/blog/vegan-statistics-global/