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I am in high school and have been a
vegetarian for over half of my life. It has always been
easy for me to avoid eating meat because I could always
eat the side dishes. I really want to be come a vegan
but I am young and feel that it will be hard for me
since I am such an active person. For instance, what
can I eat at lunchtime at school that will fill me up
but is not a slice of pizza or a candy bar?
A large number of young adults, including
high school and college students, are drawn to veganism
for a variety of reasons. It's quite likely this age
group is the fastest growing segment of the vegan movement.
There are many people -- just like you -- who have successfully
transitioned from vegetarian to vegan, even though they
lead active lives with demanding schedules. Of course,
the shift is always easier with the support of like-minded
family members and friends and an abundance of information
and ideas. But even if you are the only vegan in your
family, neighborhood, or school, it is still possible
to be triumphant in your passage.
For most vegans, unless they live in
an exceptionally vegan-friendly town, it is much easier
to fix something to eat at home than it is to find something
edible and satisfying in the school cafeteria. Even
though you may feel rushed in the morning, it is important
that you eat a well balanced breakfast. A nutritious
morning meal that fills you up can go a long way toward
boosting your energy and getting you through the day.
Whenever possible, pack a lunch for
yourself. Sandwiches are always quick and easy -- try
bean spread, nut butter and jelly, vegan cheese, baked
or smoked tofu, or seitan-based luncheon "meat." Before
or after dinner, cook up frozen prepared veggie burgers,
hot dogs, vegetable pockets, or burritos to bring for
lunch the following day. Carry a thermos of boiled water
and a packet of instant soup or a meal-in-a-cup and
prepare it just before lunchtime. Alternatively, before
school in the morning, heat up leftover or canned soup,
baked beans, or spaghetti with tomato sauce and pack
it into a wide-mouth thermos designed specifically for
hot foods. Make or buy a bean dip (such as hummus) and
bring pita bread and some vegetable sticks. Small boxes
of cold cereal along with soy milk in aseptic packages
and fresh fruit make a simple, easy-to-pack lunch. If
you have time after school or on the weekend, make a
big batch of soup, pasta salad, or rice salad to use
throughout the week.
Keep a stash of ready-to-eat foods in
your backpack: fresh and dried fruit (such as raisins,
apricots, and fruit leather), fruit juice in small bottles
or aseptic packages, soy milk or rice milk in aseptic
packages, vegan pudding cups, granola, trail mix, soy
nuts, plain popcorn, pretzels, baked corn chips, crackers
(plain or spread with nut butter), and vegan sports
bars (such as Boulder
Bars or Clif Bars).
If there is a natural food store near you, take the
time to look over the shelves, aisle by aisle, to find
new and exciting portable foods. Don't forget to look
in the deli case and freezer section, too. There are
many prepared foods that travel well and frozen items
that you could heat up at home in the evening and take
to school cold the next day. Some natural food stores
even have their own bakery and may offer vegan cookies
Being vegan is not vastly different
from being vegetarian. You are already most of the way
there. With just a little extra forethought and planning,
you should have no difficulty making the change. And,
once you do, no matter how hectic your life is, being
vegan will eventually become comfortable and effortless.
After a while it will no longer be a process -- it will
simply be an integral part of who you are.
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