For most students, college may be the first time that they have had the freedom to control what they eat for dinner. But most students tend to eat the wrong food. With the stress of homework, studying, and having a social life, it can be hard to find the time to eat a well-balanced meal. Hence, the “Freshman Fifteen.”
Freshman Katie Hagan had a different approach, she became a vegetarian. At the beginning of the year she maintained a typical college student diet of unhealthy food like chicken fingers and burgers, but she had a change of heart. This drastic shift of lifestyle was not something that Katie decided on a whim; she felt it was a moral obligation after taking a class on food and culture. She was not alone; three other students in the class became vegetarians as well. They blamed their newfound repulsion for meat on a book called Eating Animals, the same book that turned their professor into a vegetarian.
Katie revealed how difficult it was for her to make the transition to vegetarianism. Before this class, she was a classic meat lover. Every day she would eat a chicken salad sandwich for lunch and her parents would cook meals that always contained some sort of meat. “I regret every reading that book, I miss the taste of chicken but the thought of eating it turns my stomach,” said Katie. Against her parent’s wishes, she used her transformation into college as a way to experiment with her diet.
“At first I thought cutting meat out of my diet would be impossible, but I had no choice.” Katie describes the biggest struggle as trying to find a diversity of food to eat. The situation eventually became more complicated by constricting her diet even more. After finding a spider in her salad from the Sauté line, Katie now refuses to go near the lettuce. Her unnatural fear of insects lead her to cut lettuce and meat out of her diet. Sounds pretty impossible right? What kind of vegetarian refuses to eat salad. Fortunately, she found alternative ways to maintain a balanced diet.
On a typical day she eats yogurt with fruit for breakfast, granola bars and vegetables for lunch, and a quesadilla with beans for dinner. Eating healthy comes with a cost though. The healthier selection in Benson is significantly more expensive than the fast food. A slice of pepperoni pizza for example is only $3.99 when a fruit smoothie is $4.95. Katie had to accommodate for this increase in price by buying more food at Safeway than other students.
Becoming a vegetarian in college may seem like an easy transition but there are many unforeseen obstacles. Out of the four students that attempted to become vegetarians fall quarter, Katie was the only one who remained committed to this diet until recently. After a grueling twenty-four weeks of avoiding meat cravings, she finally gave in and ate a meatball at her cousin’s first communion. Though she eventually abandoned vegetarianism, Katie said that she does not regret the experience. It allowed her to test her limits and prove to herself that with the right mindset, she can do anything. Although not everything you set out to accomplish will turn out the way you expect, it is still good to put yourself out there like Katie and try new things.