Meatless doesn’t have to be mundane

Meredith Compton

Vegetarians on campus must plan meal options

When asked to define his way of life, Ryan Haffey said: “I guess to be vegetarian is to … feel bad about being picky. It’s pretty much a lifestyle.”

When students think about their food choices, many often just think, “Cheeseburger or chicken fingers? Do I want turkey or ham on my sub?” But for a select group of students, neither of these is an option.

Haffey said he never thought too much about becoming a vegetarian — he made the decision on his own.

“I always felt better after eating a salad rather than eating a burger,” he said.

Limited options

Students like Haffey, a senior Computer Information Systems major, often have a slightly harder time finding food choices that fit their needs.

According to its Web site (, Dining Services makes sure to have vegetarian choices available in all its locations. If vegetarians cannot find something to suit their diets or the vegetarian choices are not clearly listed, they should ask the manager on duty.

Some dishes on campus, such as a specialty salad or international dish, are prepared to order. If this is the case and a student wishes to make these to meet his or her vegetarian diets, he or she can ask for meat to not be used.

John Goehler, assistant director of Kent State University Dining Services, said the advantages of eating healthy are simple: “Healthy body, soul, mind.” He also said students should make the decision to become a vegetarian or vegan on their own.

“It is a personal choice based on where a person is in life and where they are from,” he said.

Though there are choices, Haffey said, when choosing where to eat on campus, he must think more than a “normal” person would.

For example, Haffey said the Student Center offers him both good choices and difficult ones.

“The market (on the first floor) is great for me, since it has lots of options,” he said. “But if I go to the chicken place, I just get fries.”

Haffey said his lifestyle requires him to do a little bit more thinking and planning overall.

“It makes me think about where I’m going to go more than a person that can eat anything,” he said.

Haffey said he doesn’t eat fish, so at restaurants he tends to order a lot of salads and appetizers, since these often don’t contain meat. He also doesn’t visit fast food restaurants often, since they have few choices for vegetarians.

“The last time I was at a fast food restaurant was when I went with a friend two months ago,” he said. “Before that it had been four or five months … it’s more of a burden.”

A slice of vegetarian life

Haffey’s typical diet starts off with either oatmeal or bagels and coffee for breakfast. He said he doesn’t really eat lunch; instead, he usually eats sometime between 4 and 6 p.m., often grilling vegetables and putting them in a pita.

He said the main staples of his diet are portabella mushrooms, tofu, potatoes and cheese.

“I pretty much can’t find a vegetable I don’t like,” he said.

Haffey said since he has become a vegetarian, his grocery shopping habits have changed.

“It makes me go over to the veggie area a lot more than I used to,” he said. “I buy a lot of food there.”

He said he doesn’t buy junk food or pop either. Instead, he buys gardenburgers and organic food when he can afford it. He also said he thinks he spends more than a “normal” shopper — about $60 every two weeks.

When asked if he will ever go back to eating meat, Haffey said he doesn’t see it happening.

“I can’t say, but I can’t see myself eating meat,” he said.

He also said he wouldn’t recommend becoming a vegetarian to others, emphasizing that he doesn’t preach to others or force his lifestyle on them.

“If you want to do it, do it,” he said. “It’s hard sometimes.”

Contact features writer Meredith Compton at [email protected].