On-campus vegan options can lead to healthier year

As we stride away from 2013 shamefully full of the new Taco Bell grillers, Starbucks fraps blissfully topped with whipped cream and used-up meal plans, it is advised we make a few changes for 2014.

The freshman 15 isn’t usually a joke for college students that are broke and have finally found the fridge freedom we wanted as children. In order to stay on top of our A-game for winter semester, we need our bodies to be at their full potentials.

Unfortunately, we must ruin the naivety of the calories we consume. One caramel Frappuccino from the Eastern Michigan University Student Center Starbucks is 410 calories. As young adults we are required to eat around 2,000 calories a day, making that sweet beverage 1/5 of our daily calorie intake. One Wendy’s Baconator from the Student Center is 940 calories. Add a medium side of fries (410 calories) and a medium soda (210 calories) and you are looking at almost a whole day’s worth of nutrition down the toilet.

The good news? EMU does offer a lot of healthier options. You just need to be brave enough to try them.

Campus offers a few main attractions for dining on campus. We have the Dining Commons, the Eastern Eateries, Eagle Cafes, the Student Center, CrossRoads MarketPlace, QuickFixx and the Lobby Shop. Apart from obvious fresh fruits always being at your disposal, all dishes served in the Commons have cards placed in front of their hot plate describing all ingredients and if it may be vegetarian or gluten free. Try them and expand your horizons.

Thinking of taking the ultimate healthy plunge? Try veganism. Marta Holmberg, the director of youth outreach and campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, explained how important it is to care about what you are putting into your body from a healthy and an ethical standpoint.

“Obesity now kills three times as many people worldwide as malnutrition does, and the average vegan is 18 percent thinner than his or her meat-eating counterpart,” Holmberg said. “The leading sources of saturated fat and cholesterol in American diets are meat, eggs and dairy products. In fact, dietary cholesterol is found only in animal products. Plus, a vegan saves more than 100 animals a year from abuse.”

In most of the dining options on campus, substitute meat products are offered. Have some in your pasta from the Eateries’ Upper Crust instead of heavy Alfredo. It will feel nice to try something new.

“For anyone wanting to try going vegan, my advice is to jump right in and try new things,” Holmberg said. “Vegan options can be found everywhere these days – from Chipotle to Starbucks to BD’s Mongolian Grill.”

In the Lobby Shop located in the Student Center, you can buy more substitute meat products or other refrigerated groceries for a late night snack. Campus always offers fresh vegetable soups as well. As for all the other temptations, everything is okay in moderation. Remember not to indulge too much and 2014 will be a great year.

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