Being vegetarian in first year means resigning yourself to eating way too much stir-fry.
I’ve been vegetarian for 11 years now, so I’ve gotten pretty good at finding things to eat even in the most meat-filled places. But eating on campus was a whole new ball game.
My first experience with Queen’s food was at Leonard Hall in first year, where I fell in love with the pasta station. The cream sauce was consistently meat-free, which was exactly what I liked. However, like many, I fell into the trap of eating pasta every day (hello, freshman 15) and I was in desperate need of some vegetables. Eventually, I got sick of eating pasta and ventured into new territory: the vegetarian station.
My biggest problem with the vegetarian station was that it was bland. Having grown up in a Sri Lankan family where each meal had a vibrant flavour palate, I wasn’t satisfied with the boiled vegetables and noodles they had the audacity to call stir-fry.
I did what every first-year student (vegetarian or otherwise) eventually does. I turned to meal equivalencies, where I ran into another problem: meal equivalencies need to include a protein.
I figured out how to use my meal equivalencies to pack in core items while still avoiding the =meat options that I would end up throwing out.
Craving a latte, but don’t want to pay for it using Flex? At Starbucks, bagels and oatmeal count as core items; you don’t need to buy one of the breakfast sandwiches.
You can also ask for dry oatmeal to store in your room for those mornings you don’t have time for breakfast.
The Lazy Scholar
The four piece is a classic, but Lazy’s grilled cheese is pretty good too, and it counts as a core item. You can also order a single egg for $1.35, leaving you with $7.40 to get whatever vegetarian goodies you want.
Don’t want to eat an egg? Just ask to be charged for an egg even if you don’t get one to fulfill the core items requirement.
Canadian Grilling Company
Another great place to cash in a meal or simply enjoy some good food is the Canadian Grilling Company, otherwise known as the CGC. While this on-campus restaurant may be devoted to meat-lovers, it also carries vegetarian patties and salads that are both delicious and filling.
My favourite (and unhealthiest, but oh well) meal equivalency hack is Pizza Pizza. If you’re planning on spending all day in Stauffer, a meal equivalency at Pizza Pizza will get you four slices — enough to tide you over for the rest of the day, meaning you can sit in Stauffer for hours without leaving your seat for food.
If all of this sounds unappealing to my fellow vegetarians, rejoice in the fact that in second year, you have complete control over your diet. Grocery shopping is a lot cheaper when you don’t have to buy a $10 chicken breast, and you can flavour your food however you want. It’s so much easier to control how healthy your diet is because it’s all up to you.
But if you end up eating frozen pizza and CoGro bagels every night anyway, that’s okay too.
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