Through Alicia VoytekAssociate Vice President of Campus Operations and this year’s Homecoming Dedicatee
As a vegetarian and vegan for over 35 years, I am often asked why, how, what I eat and of course how do I get enough protein.😊 When I was invited to share some thoughts in honor of World Vegan Day on November 1st, I thought I’d start with a small part of my story and end with some of my favorite recipes and local vegan options.
I’ve always had a deep connection and compassion for animals since I was a little kid. While my father was a vegetarian, I had always eaten a combination of my parents’ meals, including the meat my mother cooked. It wasn’t until 1987, when I was a high school student, that I began to think critically about my food when I was researching and writing a report on animal welfare for a class project. It hit me to the core and I haven’t eaten meat since. Because I was eating out with friends at the time, food choices were more limited, but I continued to eat dairy, cheese, and eggs as a lacto-ovo vegetarian.
While cleaning out my closet over the winter holidays in 2004, I discovered some of my old books on vegetarianism. Reading them again at this point in my life provoked renewed and deep thought. I realized I wanted my diet and lifestyle choices to be more aligned with my value and connection to animals. I no longer needed or wanted to consume dairy products, cheese and eggs. I researched dietary needs, healthy food combinations, and recipes that were easy to make. I’ve been vegan since that point 18 years ago.
While my own decisions are rooted in caring for animals, there are many other reasons and benefits that support a balanced vegan lifestyle. Positive impacts include health, longevity, the environment and fighting world hunger with less. When someone I meet is considering a plant-based lifestyle, I always tell them to start with the reason that appeals to them first. If the reason is health related, I recommend starting with a mental shift. Instead of thinking of this as a “diet” that focuses on what you can’t have, see it as a lifestyle change that expands what you can have, supports your progress, and aligns with your core causes .
I invite you to celebrate World Vegan Day by eating plant-based meals on the day. Even one makes a difference. If you’re not sure where to start, I’m here for you. Here are some of my favorite vegan recipes that are delicious, quick, and easy to make!
Little tip – every Sunday I prepare 10 personal salads that we can eat throughout the week to save time and make sure we’re eating fresh veggies. Colorful salads include baby spinach, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, green olives, tomatoes, and fresh black pepper. They come in handy for adding recipes, e.g. B. to pour chili over salad or add to a tofu stir-fry.
Finally, a quick nod to my favorite local treats:
- Cassie Luke (Director, Campus Living Initiatives and Partnerships) makes the absolutely most amazing vegan desserts I’ve ever had. I can’t count how many Cassie treats I’ve eaten, but let’s say it’s a lot. One day we’ll take them to the farmer’s market!
- Campus Dining Room—Casey Fischer, Ben Hartley and team always cater to a range of needs including vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and various allergens. I purchase an employee meal plan through payroll to enjoy the convenience and variety of vegan options across campus.
- Macy’s – Vegan Scones are delicious, especially the budget options from the day before! The Tempeh Avocado BLT is my favorite sandwich.
- Red Curry – Completely vegan menu, but my favorites are the Three Tastes of Asia and the Mango Rice Dessert. Delicious.
- Cornish Pasty – Comfort Food? Check. There are several vegan pies on offer but I love the vegan pot pie. As if wrapped in a cuddly warm blanket. Mashed peas are great too!
- Karma – It’s always crowded for a reason. We start with Edamame and the Spicy Tofu Teriyaki, and then I rave about their signature Harmony Rolls the whole time. Perfection.
Well, now I’m hungry. I hope you won a little lucky charm or a new recipe. Happy eating!