My experience eating vegan on campus

Sometimes living cruelty-free can be cruel


*This is a satirical piece. 

As I parked my bike outside of the SU, my mouth began to water thinking about my vegan breakfast: a plain nine-grain bagel and a black coffee from Tim Hortons.

I stood in line to order and pat myself on the back saying my personal mantra, “Not all heroes wear capes.” 

I became vegan shortly after watching documentaries on Netflix on vegan diets when I was 15 years old. Shortly after, my high school lunch table scoffed with disgust as I joined them with a bag of kale in one hand and an apple in the other. My mom hit her breaking point a week later after my public announcement on Instagram. When she made a dinner with egg noodles, I confirmed, “Sorry I can’t eat that.” 

Since then, I’ve been on my own for shopping, preparing and DIY-ing meals out of the “sides” section of menus at restaurants

I would sit during high school lunches, shoveling forkfuls of kale into my mouth thinking about where I could fulfill my destiny of being a full-forced vegan goddess who did things like slackline and eat foods like tofu scramble. 

I believed that UB could be that school for me. 

When I walked onto campus for orientation, I saw Outdoor Adventure Club members hula hooping and eating dandelions. Hammocks were scattered around Baird Point and Adirondack chairs were everywhere. Had I had some objectivity, I would have thought, ‘This is how they get you! This is really just an engineering school! It’s not this cool!’

But the sun was shining that August day and UB confirmed my belief by giving out vegan cookies at C3 during orientation.

The thing about those vegan cookies is, I don’t actually believe that they’re vegan. 

I mean they come from C3, but the thing about vegans is that we take what we can get. Our standards for vegan options are not having any. When I walked into C3 that day and saw those vegan cookies, any doubts that I had about UB vanished instantly. 

“Look at how environmentally conscious this school is,” I yelled in the premiere SUNY dining institute. 

I ate seven, stuffed two more in my pocket and fully prepared to romanticize what it was going to be like when I led UB’s first-ever vegan cult.

I would be New York State’s first congresswoman who represented the vegan party and then become the first vegan in space.

It’s hard to accomplish goals like this when the only thing you’ve had for breakfast is a plain bagel and a black coffee. 

In the last three years I became aware that my true destiny is to complain about the lack of vegan options to everyone, publicly shame people who eat meat and praise myself for the amount of methane gas I’ve prevented.

I’ve had to rely on the sugar-based concentrate from Jamba Juice for vitamins, lackluster salads from Edgy Veggie to feel healthy and soggy beans from Moe’s for protein. Still, there have been memorable meals. 

One time when I was a freshman, Governors’ Dining Hall had a hummus bar and I gorged for two hours. During another time, I bought a veggie sandwich from Whispers, but it had cheese on it so I gave it to someone else. 

There’s also Seasons, which is great for people who like to spend $6 for the same amount of juice that parents give their infants at lunch time. Seasons, located in the CFA, is far enough from most classrooms that you burn all of the calories you’ve eaten. 

It’s so hard being me. 

It’s harder being the best vegan version of myself. 

My hope for the FVOUB (Future Vegans of UB) is that nutritional yeast will be available at every condiment bar, Tofutti becomes an option at Tim Hortons and thinking French fries count as a meal becomes a thing of the past. 

But for now, I sit proudly over my plain bagel, sipping my black coffee and telling people within the first three seconds of meeting them that I am a vegan. 

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