back to top
Community

I Went Vegetarian For A Week At Illinois State And Survived

Actually, thanks to ISU Campus Dining, I thrived.

Posted on

So, I'm an omnivore.

Comedy Central / Via giphy.com

I love all the main food groups. You know, vegetables, fruits, grains, Pub II Cheese Balls...

* Pause for tribute to cheese balls *

Instagram: @yellow_byrd

But I especially love meat.

instagram.com

What can I say? There's just something about a nice burger at a Redbird tailgate or a Reggie Zone from D.P. Dough.

I also love challenges almost as much as I love bacon.

CBS / Via giphy.com

So I decided to go vegetarian for a week because...well, I wanted to prove that I could. Besides, Illinois State has the highest rated campus dining of any public school in the state, so how hard could it be?

After a little bit of planning and one "last meal" of chicken nachos, I said goodbye to meat for the week.

Here's what I ate, how I felt, and how I survived the week:

Via giphy.com

Meal #1: Lunch at Watterson Dining Commons

I was super worried about not eating meat. I was afraid I was going to walk away hungry, and I wasn't sure if I could fill up on vegetables. My first on-campus meal of the week was at one of Illinois State's two dining centers, Watterson Dining Commons. My meal included:* Vegetable pullao (an Indian, pilaf based dish; this is the first time I tried it, and I'd go for it again)* Naan bread (because you cannot go wrong with bread, am I right?)* Blueberry edamame salad and lemon dressing (which is possibly the best salad I've had this year)
Dillon Maher

I was super worried about not eating meat. I was afraid I was going to walk away hungry, and I wasn't sure if I could fill up on vegetables.

My first on-campus meal of the week was at one of Illinois State's two dining centers, Watterson Dining Commons. My meal included:

* Vegetable pullao (an Indian, pilaf based dish; this is the first time I tried it, and I'd go for it again)

* Naan bread (because you cannot go wrong with bread, am I right?)

* Blueberry edamame salad and lemon dressing (which is possibly the best salad I've had this year)

Meal #2: Dinner at Watterson Dining Commons

That night, I headed back to the dining center after class. I went to The Wok station for my main course, then headed over to Fresh Bites for some fresh fruit. Dinner included:* Chow mein noodles* General tsao's veggie stir fry (who is General Tsao and why does his food taste so good?)* Fresh strawberries
Dillon Maher

That night, I headed back to the dining center after class. I went to The Wok station for my main course, then headed over to Fresh Bites for some fresh fruit. Dinner included:

* Chow mein noodles

* General tsao's veggie stir fry (who is General Tsao and why does his food taste so good?)

* Fresh strawberries

After the first day, I was actually feeling pretty OK

Via giphy.com

I had tried a new food, eaten a pretty baller salad, and indulged in some General Tsao's. Not bad for a Monday!

NBC / Via giphy.com

Meal #3: Lunch at Watterson Dining Commons

After eating some overnight oatmeal for breakfast (which, by the way, is a perfectly mini-fridge-friendly meal for residential hall life), I headed back to Watterson Dining between classes. Today, I hit up the Homestyle line:* Pesto primavera pasta with pine nuts (try to say that five times fast)* Steamed broccoli florets + ginger rice* Five herb oven browned potatoes (always down for a good potato)* Fresh honeydew
Dillon Maher

After eating some overnight oatmeal for breakfast (which, by the way, is a perfectly mini-fridge-friendly meal for residential hall life), I headed back to Watterson Dining between classes. Today, I hit up the Homestyle line:

* Pesto primavera pasta with pine nuts (try to say that five times fast)

* Steamed broccoli florets + ginger rice

* Five herb oven browned potatoes (always down for a good potato)

* Fresh honeydew

Meal #4: Dinner at McAlister's Deli

McAlister's Deli is one of the dining options in the Bone Student Center that serves things like sandwiches, soups, salads, and potatoes. I opted for a Choose Two with:* A cup of broccoli cheddar soup* Half of a cheese spud (Yes, this is half of the Giant Spuds you can order. Dreams do come true.)
Dillon Maher

McAlister's Deli is one of the dining options in the Bone Student Center that serves things like sandwiches, soups, salads, and potatoes. I opted for a Choose Two with:

* A cup of broccoli cheddar soup

* Half of a cheese spud (Yes, this is half of the Giant Spuds you can order. Dreams do come true.)

Meal #5: Breakfast at Watterson Dining Commons

Folks. Breakfast food is my favorite thing and I want to eat it for every meal. This morning, I feasted on:* Scrambled eggs with hot sauce* Fresh strawberries* Hash browns* Oatmeal with peanut butter and brown sugar
Dillon Maher

Folks. Breakfast food is my favorite thing and I want to eat it for every meal. This morning, I feasted on:

* Scrambled eggs with hot sauce

* Fresh strawberries

* Hash browns

* Oatmeal with peanut butter and brown sugar

NBC / Via giphy.com

Retweet @LeslieKnope

Meal #6: Lunch at Watterson Dining Commons

I had big plans to eat lunch at Marketplace at Linkins, the other dining center on campus, but it started raining so I decided to go to Watterson because it was closer to work. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I hit up the Burritos, Etc. station for the first time since going veggie, and I was not disappointed. Lunch consisted of:* A quesadilla with pinto beans, tomatoes, jalapeños, sour cream, and of course guacamole (which, might I add, doesn't cost extra when you're eating at campus dining)* Mediterranean bulgur salad (a grain-based salad with garbanzo beans; this wasn't my favorite thing in the world, but you can't love everything, right?)* Fresh watermelon
Dillon Maher

I had big plans to eat lunch at Marketplace at Linkins, the other dining center on campus, but it started raining so I decided to go to Watterson because it was closer to work. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I hit up the Burritos, Etc. station for the first time since going veggie, and I was not disappointed. Lunch consisted of:

* A quesadilla with pinto beans, tomatoes, jalapeños, sour cream, and of course guacamole (which, might I add, doesn't cost extra when you're eating at campus dining)

* Mediterranean bulgur salad (a grain-based salad with garbanzo beans; this wasn't my favorite thing in the world, but you can't love everything, right?)

* Fresh watermelon

After meal #6, I felt like I had this whole vegetarian thing down.

ABC / Via giphy.com

I knew where to find vegetarian options (which wasn't super hard, because there are a lot of different options), and I was really enjoying trying new things.

Via giphy.com

Meal #7: Lunch at Watterson Dining Commons

It was a chilly morning today, so by the time I got to lunch I wanted something to warm me up. I landed on the Olive Garden Special (i.e. soup, salad, and bread sticks). I lunched on:* A salad from the salad bar with cucumber, egg, tomato, and raspberry vinaigrette* Aztec black bean soup * Fresh pineapple* Bread sticks (not pictured: the 7 other bread sticks I wanted to eat but decided it was best not to)
Dillon Maher

It was a chilly morning today, so by the time I got to lunch I wanted something to warm me up. I landed on the Olive Garden Special (i.e. soup, salad, and bread sticks). I lunched on:

* A salad from the salad bar with cucumber, egg, tomato, and raspberry vinaigrette

* Aztec black bean soup

* Fresh pineapple

* Bread sticks (not pictured: the 7 other bread sticks I wanted to eat but decided it was best not to)

Meal #8: Dinner at Watterson Dining Commons

Today, I learned I do not enjoy tofu. It's a consistency thing for me. Anyway, for dinner I ate:* Sweet and sour tofu (I ate around the tofu and survived)* Steamed rice* Mediterranean chopped salad with balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing* Fresh honeydew
Dillon Maher

Today, I learned I do not enjoy tofu. It's a consistency thing for me. Anyway, for dinner I ate:

* Sweet and sour tofu (I ate around the tofu and survived)

* Steamed rice

* Mediterranean chopped salad with balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing

* Fresh honeydew

Via giphy.com

Meal #9: Einstein Bros. Bagels

I don't have classes on Fridays (life is good, folks), so I met a friend for a late breakfast/early lunch at Einstein Bros. Bagels, another one of the dining options in the Bone Student Center. I usually just get a regular bagel (which I guess is also vegetarian), but I decided to branch out. I ate:* A spinach, mushroom, and swiss egg sandwich on a 9-grain bagel
Dillon Maher

I don't have classes on Fridays (life is good, folks), so I met a friend for a late breakfast/early lunch at Einstein Bros. Bagels, another one of the dining options in the Bone Student Center. I usually just get a regular bagel (which I guess is also vegetarian), but I decided to branch out. I ate:

* A spinach, mushroom, and swiss egg sandwich on a 9-grain bagel

Meal #10: Dinner in Uptown Normal

After a full week, a couple friends and I headed to one of my favorite restaurants in Uptown Normal, Anand India. Although I was sad to pass up my go-to chicken shahi korma, I survived with: * Aloo choley (a dish made with potatoes and chickpeas)* Not pictured: Rice and naan (How fitting that I ate naan at both my first and last vegetarian meals?)
Dillon Maher

After a full week, a couple friends and I headed to one of my favorite restaurants in Uptown Normal, Anand India. Although I was sad to pass up my go-to chicken shahi korma, I survived with:

* Aloo choley (a dish made with potatoes and chickpeas)

* Not pictured: Rice and naan (How fitting that I ate naan at both my first and last vegetarian meals?)

After five days of no meat, I survived.

Fox / Via giphy.com

Although by the end of the week I was in desperate need of some meat, it was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. Although I'll probably never cut meat totally out of my diet, I learned a lot and grew to appreciate the food options I have on campus more than I used to.

What I learned:

Via giphy.com

* Breakfast is the best and always will be, meat or no meat

* Campus dining has a lot of options to accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences

* Life doesn't revolve around cheeseburgers and chicken nachos

Got questions about food at Illinois State, #FutureRedbird?

Check out Campus Dining's website to learn more, or tweet us your questions at @ISUAdmissions!

This post was created by a member of BuzzFeed Community, where anyone can post awesome lists and creations. Learn more or post your buzz!