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A veggie tale

Going meatless in a college world full of fast food is not as difficult as it seems. Almost daily I get questioned as to how I survive without an occasional hamburger or Chick-fil-A sandwich, but being a vegetarian doesn’t mean surviving only on leafy greens. There are a plethora of meatless options available for those who choose to avoid the cow.

The frozen foods section of the grocery store is chock full of yummy meat alternatives. Brands such as Morningstar Farms and Boca make great-tasting soy burgers and chick pea chicken patties. These products not only taste close to authentic, but are also lower in fat than their animal-based counterparts.

Many soy-based foods are also organic, meaning they are not pumped full of preservatives and chemicals and are therefore better for your health. Amy’s Brand carries a variety of organic burritos, pizzas and ethnic dinners. These are also microwavable frozen items, reasonably priced for the college budget.

Any health food or natural goods store will carry the greatest assortment of vegetarian and vegan items. While the prices may be slightly higher for some products, the multitudes of items not found at the typical chain make it worth the higher grocery bill. These stores often carry items outside the realm of food for the Earth-conscious consumer. There are organic and all-natural bath-, hair and face-care items.

Dining out can be a challenge at times. However, many ethnic restaurants cater to vegetarians. Indian, Thai and Asian restaurants often have whole sections of vegetarian options. For the new vegetarian, a trip to Evo’s in South Tampa is a must. Evo’s is the McDonald’s for the vegetarian. They have an assortment of soy and garden burgers, as well as healthy airfries and smoothies.

The Internet offers a good amount of vegetarian recipes, and numerous vegetarian cookbooks have been published. Big chain restaurants have been forced to add vegetarian options to their menu and will have to add more as the vegetarian population expands.

Going veggie doesn’t have to be a life-changing experience. You can still eat something at nearly every restaurant and feel better about what you are putting into your body.

For anyone who has thought about cutting out the meat, I would suggest starting slow. Try cutting out red meat first. Once you conquer that hurdle, move onto chicken. A few easy steps later, you are a non-meat eater.

It is a personal decision, and people go veggie for a variety of reasons. Yet, I can say I feel lighter, more energized and generally healthier after ditching the carnivorous diet.