Is It Difficult to be Vegan at Williston?


The Xinjiang province in China.

Growing up Buddhist, my parents have always emphasized taking a stand against animal cruelty. But after watching “What the Health” on Netflix, I learned the true detrimental effects of meat production and consumption.

I decided to join Linda Askenazi Mochon ’21 and Sophie Gontow Calderon ’21 to navigate the dining hall in a new way, to try the vegan diet for at least a week.

According to the National Health Service, a vegan diet contains only plants (such as vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits) and foods made from plants.

Research has linked vegan diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer, according to Vegan Society.

“This is easy,” I told myself. “I just have to cut the meat portion of my diet.” But I proved myself wrong as soon as I walked into the dining hall for lunch on day one.

My options were extremely limited. On a typical day, I eat rice with some type of meat and add chicken to my salad. However, eating vegan restricted me to rice, broccoli, and green beans.

On day one, Sunday, November 2, I was hungry. My body was accustomed to eating more food than it needed and it protested this light diet strongly.

Linda spoke about the limited options provided by the dining hall for someone following a vegan diet.

“I don’t think there are enough options for vegans,” she said. “Especially during breakfast, since eggs, bacon, sausage and yogurt are the main options.”

Along with the health, ethical, and environmental benefits, Linda chose to go vegan for a week partly, she said, as a tradition to connect with friends back in Mexico.

“It’s a way to connect myself with my friends that are far away,” she said. “My two best friends are following the vegan diet too, and [we are] staying connected through a similar experience.”

Linda expressed some specific psychological challenges in adopting the new diet.

“It’s a brain thing when you are restricted to eat something, your brain automatically craves that particular food,” she said.

Midway through her vegan week, Linda established that this is only going to be a once a year tradition with her friends.

“I do respect vegans,” she said, “but I’d rather do it for fun and learn from the experience.”

The Willistonian spoke with Sophie Calderon ’21 about the high and low tides of her vegan week.

“It was hard watching people eat dessert,” she said. “Otherwise, it was fine, I ate rice and pasta mostly.”

On Sunday, November 9, Sophie’s vegan week ended. She said she won’t continue to eat vegan, but restricting her diet for the week helped her understand the benefits.

I, personally, won’t go vegan again. The options are severely limited. And I wouldn’t be able to eat ice cream.