Have you ever wanted to try out veganism?

Many of you food lovers will say “oh god no! Why would I do that? What even is life without ice cream? Steak? GRILLED CHEESE??”

If that’s the case, you should probably stop reading now.

But if you’re even just the tiniest bit curious, hear me out. Not only is a vegan diet great for your health, for animal rights, and for the environment (check out the documentary Forks Over Knives and I guarantee you’ll be persuaded), but it’s also a great way to expand your food repertoire. When you can’t eat meat, eggs, fish, cheese, or milk, you have no choice but to get a little creative in order to get in all your nutrients – and to feed all your cravings.

I am not currently a vegan or a vegetarian, but for the past three years I’ve done “vegan month.” I decided to try going from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas morning without eating anything that came from an animal in any way. Every year during this month I feel great. I eat more vegetables and less sugar, I cook for myself more, and when I finally get my first taste of my mom’s famous Christmas morning coffee cake with some bacon on the side, it tastes that much better.  Last year, I loved it so much that I decided to become a vegan for a full six months. Now, even though I’m back to pizza and cheesy eggs, I still love my quinoa and big salads. Although this on-again, off-again approach might not be for everyone, I learned a lot from being a vegan and now when I feel like making healthy choices I love going back to it. So try it out… for a month, a week, even a day. Who knows, you might love it!

Once you’ve committed to a plant-based diet, the next question is obviously where you can eat and what you can eat there. We all know and love the vegan line at Usdan, but what about when your friends want to break out of the dirty ‘dan rut? Here are a few suggestions:

Usdan:

Yeah, yeah, apple crisp, cashew mac and cheese, peanut noodles, vegan baked goods – we know they’re awesome. But the vegan line does cycle through the same options over and over again, so expand your horizons. Almost every corner of Usdan is stocked with yummy choices. Hit up Mongolian Grill for tofu and veggie stir-fry. The sandwich station often has portabella, hummus, and pesto. I love to check out Kosher and Classics for any veggies cooked without butter (they’ll have a vegan sticker) and then build a huge salad on top with stuff from Vegan and the Salad Bar. Finally, Kate Gibbel ’15 got me hooked on my favorite vegan treat: slice a banana in half lengthwise and cover it with massive quantities of almond butter and chocolate soy nut butter. You won’t regret it.

Okay, so it’s almost impossible to photograph a banana ina flattering way but this. Will. Change. Your. Life.

Okay, so it’s almost impossible to photograph a banana in
a flattering way but this. Will. Change. Your. Life.

WesWings:

WesWings is one of the tougher spots to meet your vegan needs, but its absolutely still possible if your friends want to go. They often have yummy vegan soups, the falafel salad is great (and huge!), and the seitan options are extensive. Coming for brunch? ‘Swings offers oatmeal covered with nuts, fruit and brown sugar.

Red and Black:

Red and Black is another toughie, but again still 100% doable. My top choice is the Guacamole Cheddar Wrap, hold the cheddar. Check out the specials board too. Just stay away for brunch: you won’t have many options here.

Star and Crescent:

S&C will always list on their menu which meals are vegan and when they do get there fast. Everything is amazing. The only downside is that the desserts often aren’t vegan, but you’ll be so happy from your delicious dinner that you probably won’t even care.

Number one lesson I’ve learned from being vegan: salads are way more exciting when they don’t start with lettuce.

Number one lesson I’ve learned from being vegan: salads are way more exciting when they don’t start with lettuce.

Summerfields:

Summies’s burger-and-fries heavy menu may not seem like a great choice if you’re trying to eat vegan, but the trick is to customize the menu. I always go for the vegan black bean burger, which is really tasty with or without the bun and can be tricked out with avocado, mushrooms or peppers and onions. Most of the sides are totally vegan friendly. My other go-to is the burrito bowl. Get the veggie option, ask for no cheese or sour cream, load up on guac and hot sauce, and you’ve got a healthy and super filling meal.

Pi and Usdan Café:

Bon Appetite does a fantastic job of stocking a meat and dairy free grab-and-go lunch every day. I really love the basmati and chickpea salad shakers, as well as the eggplant and hummus wraps. If you’re looking for a quick snack, Sabra hummus and pretzels, Real Food Tastes Good chips, Naked juice, and many of the bars sold are all vegan.

Oreos?? Yup, they’re vegan! Pick some up from WesShop

Oreos?? Yup, they’re vegan! Pick some up from WesShop

WesShop:

MaraNatha almond butter, any kind of hummus, dark chocolate, almond milk, LaraBars and Nature’s Path Oatmeal are of few of the staples I buy to keep in my room, but there’s tons of stuff here. There are some awesome vegan baked goods on the shelves near the registers. I also like to pretend that the chocolate covered peanuts are vegan, even though they totally aren’t (shhh).

Overall Wesleyan does a great job of providing a huge variety of delectable vegan food for a wide variety of taste buds. If you want to try it out, I say there is no better place than here – when else in your life are you going to have access to a chef who specializes in Vegan baked goods?

Stay tuned for a post on off-campus vegan options!

-Sarah ’15