College bucket list: Vegetarian for a week

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Archive photo (Gabriela Faraone | Collegian Media Group)

People constantly recommend different diets to Americans. For some, these options are completely suitable, but others can’t imagine a meal without certain foods.

When I was a kid, I despised meat. It was always the last item left on my plate, and I could never understand why anyone would find the tough food so appealing. Fast forward to now, and it is rare to see me eating a meal without meat.

But I was curious, so I tried to be vegetarian for a week.

Since I live in the dorms, the dining centers offer a variety of foods to suit many dietary needs, including my new temporary switch.

At first, it was much easier than I thought. On the first day, I was excited to see all the options I could try. The dining centers have designated meatless or vegan items that were extremely helpful.

Surprisingly, breakfast was the same, with a large sum of eggs to start my day. If I needed to eat during the day when the dining halls were not open for other meals, I made my own salad with beans, peas, egg and quinoa, or I snacked on cottage cheese and peaches.

For some meals, I attempted to have a more normal plate. On dinner the second day, I attempted to fill my plate at the classics line to find my meal (where I, sadly, had to decline meatloaf) was generally the same except for one difference: I had swapped my meat product for a helping of potatoes.

I think the switch from a normal American diet to vegetarian would be easier than vegetarian to vegan, because I had learned that because I was eating vegetarian, I was having to rely more on eggs and dairy products and other animal products.

Another thing I learned was switching to vegetarian is easy but switching to vegetarian while trying to be healthy was a larger hurdle than expected. Within a few days, I had learned my staple items: beans, veggies, fruit, potatoes and cottage cheese. If I was losing nutrients, I couldn’t tell. At every meal I felt as if I were eating more, yet I did not feel as full as usual.

For anyone considering being a vegetarian, I have a few recommendations.

  1. Test it out: Attempt being a vegetarian for a week to see if how much of a difference it can make.
  2. Find protein alternatives: This includes beans, eggs or high-protein dairies.
  3. Have proper nutrients: Vegetarians can lack B12 vitamins, iron, or omega-3 fatty acids, so it is important to take vitamin supplements or add healthy fats from seeds, avocados, or healthy oils.

If my younger self knew people lived a lifestyle without meat, I would have loved the idea. Personally though, I probably could continue to be a vegetarian, but I think I’ll go have a turkey sandwich, because I prefer a diet with meat.

Sierra Staatz is a freshman in biological and chemical engineering. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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