Frances Beedon | April 5, 2019
Historically, school lunch at Greenhills has not been the healthiest thing in the world. The Polo Cafe was basically just junk food, and the vending machines last year weren’t any better. But now we have PlumSmart, a much healthier and more sustainable option for our daily lives. While PlumSmart does have a variety of healthy choices, I’m curious to find out whether or not it has enough options for those with certain dietary restrictions such as veganism, and whether the options are good. I’m vegetarian in the first place, so there are limited options as is, but being vegan will take things one step farther. My goal is to eat vegan for 5 days with PlumSmart to experience being vegan at this school. Wish me luck!
Day 1! I’m hoping to be creative with the food options and not only eat the basic vegan options like the salad bar. I’d like to incorporate a main menu item here and there. Today I see quinoa cakes on the menu. I figure that might be vegan, but my goal is to use the quinoa cakes to form a healthier and yummier meal.
--My lunch consisted of a vegan quinoa patty (which I had to specifically ask for) wrapped in lettuce, with tomatoes and pickles. I also ate fruit and fries on the side, assuming they were vegan - a fact I probably should have checked before eating! The quinoa patty concoction was not the best. I tried to finish the whole meal, but the flavor and the texture together made the dish a bit hard to eat.
Day 2! Today is beef and veggie tacos (not my favorite), so I’m excited to find a way to turn it into a vegan meal!
--Well, turns out that the beef tacos were not actually beef tacos. Instead, they served cheese and beef quesadillas. Because of this change, I wasn’t able to create the most eccentric or creative meal out of the ingredients provided. I ended up making a salad, with nothing special to it. It had no meat or dairy, just lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, croutons, balsamic dressing and peppers. A little depressing, but interesting on the taste buds.
Day 3! Today was pasta day. I’m going to be honest and admit my defeat. I love pasta and everything that comes with it. The cheese, the sauce, the breadsticks, I couldn’t say no to all of the wonderful items on the menu. I couldn’t stay vegan on pasta day, as much as I wanted to, I met my match.
Day 4! I'm excited for today! With rice on the menu, a vegan meal sounds much more achievable. I’m hoping to create a hybrid meal, with vegetables from the salad bar, rice and any vegan sides that are available.
Today I ended up keeping it pretty simple again. I made another salad. This one had a little more pizazz, with croutons, peppers, lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, edamame (which you can’t see in the picture) and Chop House salad dressing. The vegetarian option for today was Chana Masala, which was rice with chickpeas and vegetables on top, and it was vegan, too. While this was a great option for anyone looking for a vegan meal, my picky self doesn’t enjoy chickpeas, so I opted for some plain old basmati rice. I added some pepper and salt for flavoring, and although it may seem weird, I ended up mixing the rice and salad together to form a power bowl. It tasted great!
Day 5! On the menu for today is boneless chicken wings and veggie chicken bites, and I’m crossing my fingers that the veggie option will be vegan too!
Well, my spaciness took a toll on me today and I forgot to picture my food, but the veggie chicken bites were vegan! I ate them with ketchup, a small salad and an apple. The meal was so good! The best vegan one so far by a landslide.
Day 6! The last day of this journey that has taken much longer than expected. Today on the menu is beef and vegetarian enchiladas.I don't really know how I’ll make a vegan meal out of the resources provided. I’m hoping I can make something exciting to end this vegan experiment with a bang.
When I got to the cafeteria today to make my last vegan meal, one of the women who works for PlumSmart who knows about this challenge told me that there was a vegan enchilada option, along with many vegan sides. The enchilada was made of a corn tortilla stuffed with beans, rice, peppers, onions and some vegan cheese. I grabbed a plate of that and a side of tabbouleh salad, made with quinoa, kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a yummy dressing. Seeing as the meal was completely vegan, it was surprisingly tasty and a great grande finale for this whole process!
I don’t eat meat, and I don’t eat much dairy either, so my expectation was that this challenge was going to be pretty easy for me. I was wrong. This article took much longer than expected to write. Because my body craved non-vegan foods, I kept skipping days of eating vegan. I added one of my cheat days to show my struggle, and that’s why this challenge last’s an extra day. Through this experiment, I’ve realized that PlumSmart’s number of vegan options really ebbs and flows . On some days, there wouldn’t be much of anything vegan to eat, and if there was, it would be an option that didn’t look too appealing. But on other days, like the last one, there were plenty of vegan options that all looked tasty. Eating vegan for a week when there were so many non-vegan options available to me was really hard. If anyone reading this is fully vegan, or even partially, I seriously applaud you. You are amazing. I now know that I will never be able to be vegan (I like ice cream and cheese too much for that), but this was a great experience for me and my taste buds, and a real eye opener.