I dream of tofu

This week, I decided to go vegetarian! :) Well I’m technically starting off “pescatarian”, because I still want to eat sushi and shrimp. (What can I say, the spirit is willing but the body is weak.) Still, I think this could be a good springboard into bigger things.

This is not the first time I’ve put aside my meat-loving taste buds in the name of friendly competition and good will towards animals. Last semester, David and I decided to keep each other accountable by going meat-free together. The loser had to buy the winner a lunch buffet at Woodlands Vegetarian Indian Cuisine down the street. Their lunch buffet is pretty cheap, like $9, and soooo delicious! Fellow ‘dores, I highly recommend it. And after four weeks I won the bet! But without anyone to keep me in check, I refrained from eating meat for about another four weeks before caving in. I still remember that first bite… the most moist, seasoned and flavorful turkey I can remember.

Dave & I say no to meat

So now we’re going double-or-nothing. From last time’s experiment I must say that Vandy’s efforts to accommodate vegetarians ultimately fall short. We have one totally vegetarian cafeteria on meal plan here, Grins Cafe, attached to the Vanderbilt Hillel.  The food is pretty yummy, but the portions literally would feed a 10-year-old me. Plus the wait for food can be anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes or more. The Grins-eating demographic has typically been sorority girls; men in Grins are rare, prized sightings. With its revamped menu and delicious cheeseburger paninis, Grins has diversified and gained popularity on campus, particularly amongst long-line-and-small-portion lovers.

And they’re out of paninis

Besides Grins, what other delightful vegetarian options are available on meal plan? I dunno, there’s salad bars at Commons and Rand. The Pub has a vegetarian quesadilla. There’s Leaf (as Stefon would say, Vandy’s hottest new salad bar) and that’s about it.

In addition to loving our cuddly animal friends, did you know that eating no or less meat is a wonderful, practical thing that you can do to protect the environment?

It turns out that we produce enough food to feed everyone! Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer claims that if we fed the grain we feed to livestock to the 1.4 billion people living in abject poverty, each of them would get more than half a ton of grain, or about 3 pounds of grain/day, twice the grain they would need to survive. “The world is not running out of food. The problem is that we — the relatively affluent — have found a way to consume four or five times as much food as would be possible, if we were to eat the crops we grow directly.” Although we still have to solve logistical issues of food distribution, not to mention resolve the basic tenants of capitalism that make even distribution of food so difficult with greedy people, admitting that we eat way too much is the first step to change, right?

I did find a lame counter-argument as well, which claims that being vegetarian does more harm to the environment than eating meat. Fiona Macrae of the UK’s Daily Mail writes, “The Cranfield University study found that switching from British-bred beef and lamb to meat substitutes imported from abroad such as tofu and Quorn would increase the amount of land cultivated, raising the risk of forests being destroyed.” Of course, she ignores the possibility that one might supplement a vegetarian diet with more than tofu or “quorn”, and I seriously doubt that the amount of land it takes to make tofu surpasses the amount needed for cattle cultivation.

To “sum” — wise words from a 12-year-old vegetarian:

Yes, I am still very concerned about the mistreatment of animals, but I am also concerned with the loss of the rainforests, with the increasing threat of global warming, and with having clean water to drink and clean air to breathe. What can I, a 12-year-old American girl, do to make a difference? I will still choose to conserve water and electricity and to reuse and recycle whenever possible, but the single most environmentally important choice I can make is to eat a plant-based diet.

And honest words from a 21-year-old pescatarian wannabe: I love tofu, eggplant and black beans. Maybe it will work out this time!

One final interesting factoid: “Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against global warming than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid.” [source] To me, going vegan is the holy grail of commitment. I’ll get there one day! One dry veggie wrap at a time. For now my goal is to stay meat-free at least until the end of the semester. Hopefully you all can keep me accountable to this! I might make an exception for Thanksgiving, though :( i’m a sucker for moist, seasoned and flavorful turkey

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