Jessica Gude, Features Editor
“Wait, I thought you were a vegan.” This is a statement that usually comes as I’m reaching for a piece of chicken or halfway through a forkful of something with bacon. And despite the number of times I’ve heard it, my eyes will widen in disbelief and I’ll exclaim, “Why does everyone think that?” And while “everyone” may be a bit hyperbolic, it is a comment I’ve gotten from many different people in my life: professors, coworkers, friends, and even some extended family members. One particular friend describes it as “my vegan soul”, and while I’ve spent the last four years fighting her on it, I’ll admit she has a point. While I do eat (and massively enjoy) plenty of animal products, fruits, veggies, and other 100% vegan friendly foods will always hold a special place in my heart. So here it is, an ode to my vegan soul.
“Orange vegetables are my favorite” I’ll say, and I’m not missing the noun “vegetable” or even “food” because I’m using “favorite” as the noun, again hyperbolic, I know. This is something I’ll say as I fill up a plate with sweet potatoes, pour myself a bowl of pumpkin bisque, dig a spoon into carrot puree, or describe Stimson dinner as being “on point” on a particular day purely because they had roasted acorn squash. I’m not sure what it is, maybe it’s something about the subtle sweetness, the color contrast, or how well most of them pair with cinnamon, but I’ll eat any orange veggies any time of year.
Anyone who knows how much salad I consume may find it surprising that I refused to eat lettuce until high school, but before then I would have described its taste as either “like grass” or “like water.” I’ve gotten over my aversion since then, and while I’ll probably always take spring mix when give the choice, I’ve also learned to appreciate the peppery taste of arugula and even bitter mustard greens and kale.
While it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite carb and I’m incredibly tempted to claim bread as my number one, there is just something about potatoes, just roasted potatoes. And while I love the visually appealing blue or purple varieties, I am just as happy with any russet or red-skinned variety. With crispy skin and soft interiors, potatoes are a warm and perfectly carby masterpiece.
I feel that as kids we’re taught that while good for you, vegetables are supposed to be something you dislike, probably because they’re properly cooked only rarely. As I’ve grown up and realized that most vegetables are actually delicious, I’m always surprised when I realize I like something I thought I didn’t. Brussel sprouts are amazing if you don’t steam the bejeezus out of them. Spinach can be wonderful if you don’t serve it as a slimy blob. Beets should be treated and eaten like candy, because they’re that good. As I’ve gotten older and become more responsible for feeding myself, I’ve realized just how many veggies I enjoy and how much I like them.
So I suppose if I can use this much space talking about how much I love vegetables (don’t even get me started on fruits), it’s not wrong to think that I have a vegan soul. I guess if I can eat an entire Cioppino (i.e. ridiculously huge) bowl of sautéed veggies at the end of a shift, it’s fair to assume I may be a vegetarian. But what I’m leaving out of this narrative is how well veggies pair with some non-vegan substances. Because as much as I love kale by itself, it tastes better with bacon. As great as broccoli is, it’s even better in an omelet. And as much as I love butternut squash with nothing but salt and cinnamon, I will not pass up the opportunity to add chicken. So sure, maybe I look like I could be a vegetarian, maybe my soul is in fact vegan, but my diet will always be omnivorous.