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Lion Guides: Being Vegetarian at Columbia

The following actually happened:

: “…I’m vegetarian.”

The room: *gasp* “A…a what? Did he say vegetarian?” “But what does he eat at JJ’s?” “Oh, that poor thing!”

Yeah, it’s true. Being a vegetarian kind of sucks in a country where meat is a staple food. I don’t eat chicken, beef, pork, fish, or any other kind of meat. Unfortunately for me, this means that I usually have less to choose from when I’m getting food to eat.

Back home, I had to be discerning about where I went out to eat with my friends. I had to check the menu for every local restaurant to try and find vegetarian options before I visited, and there were a lot of times where I couldn’t find anything. I never went on late-night excursions to Buffalo Wild Wings or KFC – there was no point.

But now that I’ve made it to New York City, I have a very different problem – there’s too much to choose from. Good problem? Absolutely.

For one, the dining halls have no scarcity of vegetarian and vegan food. John Jay and Ferris both mark numerous options every day as vegetarian and vegan. And what’s better, both are very clearly labeled – no longer do I have to partake in the ritual of saying, “Do you guys have anything vegetarian?”

 While JJ’s Place is geared towards burgers and chicken tenders and all that stuff (which looks delicious even to a vegetarian), even it has vegetarian options. You can get veggie burgers; you can get wraps without meat, omelets without meat, and obviously, those wonderful chocolate chip pancakes without meat. On campus, there is no scarcity of choice when it comes to finding vegetarian food.

When I go off campus into Morningside Heights and beyond, there are always vegetarian options within a block of where I’m standing. There’s so much food in New York City that statistically, there’s always a vegetarian option close by. And as with most food in the city, it’s usually good.

In most places, vegetarian food gets boring – the same old sandwiches, salads, and meals. But it’s not boring here. For once, I have choice; I have the luxury of variety.

Being a vegetarian at Columbia is way better than being a vegetarian almost anywhere else in the country. It’s nice, for once, to be in an environment where my dietary needs are fully catered to, and where I don’t have to constantly search and ask for options that suit my needs.  While the quality of food may be lackluster at times, I will always be thankful for John Jay and Ferris because I don’t want to go back to driving around in search of a Subway.

Columbia dining gets a lot of flak from the student body about what they serve, but this is one thing they got 100% right.

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