This blog post is dedicated to Zainab, who (just like I was when her age) is finding it tough to eat vegan at school.
What oh WHAT is a teen to do? You still live with your family (who have their own cultural beliefs about food and their own routines around dinner time), you don't yet have your own job to buy and prepare groceries, and if you are like many of the High School kids around the world, you don't know how to cook yet or feel you have time to learn.
Let's not forget the fact that most High School cafeterias offer food which is provided by government programs (read: subsidized by the meat and dairy industry). When I was in High School I remember that finding vegetarian and vegan lunches at school lunch required me to pull cheese off of pizza which was already made (therefore WASTING food which had already caused a great amount of death and devastation), or eating salad every day. Oh but long gone are the days of salad bars even AVAILABLE in High School cafeterias around our United States.
Here is the short answer: YOU MUST ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR BELIEFS.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan student, you should let the administrators know. You should tell them that the cafeteria does not offer food which aligns with your belief system. You can give them some articles to read, or recommend books that shed light on factory farming and meat/dairy eating. You can use the list below to offer up alternative lunch choices.
Here is the long answer: SORRY HOMIE, YOU GOTTA BROWN BAG IT.
(that is until you have set forth a food revolution in your school, or as you are in the process of bringing about options/change).
If you want to know some yummy awesome food to eat that does not include the torture of animals, you can easily check out my Pinterest page which has some of my favourite recipes:
(look for recipes that say "vegan," I also have a tendency to pin things that I veganize).
For the future, I am making a digital book which will have guides and recipes geared toward High School students and "non-cooks" alike, which will give you a run down how to be vegan easily.
For now remember that instead of just omitting meat and eggs and dairy, you can also add a plethora of whole foods and fruits and vegetables. The fact is, many people chose to eat SO little of the food available that happen to be vegan, bonus, these are good for you and no animals are hurt!
(food cart life? grab a falafel with tahini, say no dairy: they got you).
To give you an idea of my usual weekly dinner plan it's like this:
Monday: lentil and bean soup with potatoes with goya seasoning
Tuesday: tostones and plantones maduros
Wednesday: mangu (made with earth balance instead of butter)
Thursday: red lentil kale soup
Friday: pasta with field roast sausage http://fieldroast.com/product/field-roast-sausages/ and kale, red sauce
Saturday: beans and rice
Sunday: wild card (may order Indian or Thai or Chinese vegan food).
For breakfast we do cereals or bread and fruit or smoothies and lunch we just pack leftovers from the night before and add a salad. Super easy!
If you are packing your own vegan lunch and are not just wrapping up leftovers here is a list of options (jeez do I have to do everything for you?)
Monday: pita wrap with chopped veggies, hummus, chickpeas, tabouleh, a pear and vegan muffin. (didn't have time to make one this weekend? Skip Dunkin' Donuts and grab the blueberry muffin at Le Pain).
Tuesday: Sweet Potato and spinach wrap, vegan pasta salad, banana and water bottle.
Wednesday: Half day! (at my school), grab lunch at open kitchen or a falafel from the halal cart.
Thursday: Avocado Toast with cold peanut noodles, clementine, soy yogurt and water bottle.
Friday: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich, apple, celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins (aka ants on a log), water bottle.
Here is a list of snacks you could also bring:
- Natural fruit leathers
- Granola bars
- Dried fruit, such as apple rings or apricots
- Trail mix (dried fruits with nuts and seeds)
- Rice cakes or mini-rice cakes
- Graham crackers
- Sesame breadsticks
- Bagel crisps
Your partner in vegan yumminess and cruelty free choices, with love and kindness,