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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Going vegan doable at the UA

    Angeline Carbajal

    Lauren Thompson, a biology freshman at the UA and a vegan, outside of the Food Conspiracy Co-Op on Fourth Avenue on Thursday. Thompson used to be a long-distance runner and became a vegan over one year ago for health and ethical reasons.

    Many students fear gaining the “freshman 15” upon entering college. Whether it is the newfound freedom or the stress of school that leads some to ignore their health, many students find it hard to resist going to the Student Union Memorial Center’s Cellar Bistro for a late-night milkshake or to Burger King for a large side of fries. Biology freshman Lauren Thompson, however, came into the UA with a different perspective on food. Thompson said that, as a vegan, she cannot consume any animal products or byproducts, including meat and dairy.

    “With my diet, I try to stay away from artificial products, ingredients [and] sweeteners,” Thompson said. “I check the labels avidly.”

    Thompson has adopted the vegan lifestyle for about a year now.

    “I am a long-distance runner, and I first decided to be health conscious by becoming a vegetarian and seeing if eliminating artificial sweeteners and cutting out meat would help me as a runner,” Thompson said. “I noticed that I was running faster, and my times were going down. I then decided to try veganism to cleanse my body. As time went on, I really enjoyed how eating vegan made my body feel. I felt a lot cleaner. My body felt better, and I had more energy.”

    Thompson said that she appreciates the simplicity of her plant-based diet without the extra factory-made ingredients. In addition, she researched the ethical aspect of being a vegan. As she discovered more about the meat and dairy industry’s negligence of animals and the environment, she decided to make the full transition over to veganism.

    However, for some students who were vegan before coming to college, the daunting task of finding affordable vegan options has made them change their diet.

    “I gave up being vegan around July of 2014 because I knew it would be too difficult and expensive in college,” said Mikayla Greene, a veterinary freshman.

    Thompson said that being a vegan while living on campus in the dorms is not as challenging as one might presume.

    “I don’t have a meal plan, and what I usually do is … go grocery shopping once or twice a week,” Thompson said. “I get a lot of rice, beans, whole nuts, seeds and bread. I stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables.”

    Although Thompson does not have a personal kitchen and is often busy with her demanding schedule, she has learned how to make quick, easy and wholesome meals.

    “For an easy dinner, I will use my rice cooker to steam rice and vegetables, such as potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and greens on the side,” Thompson said.

    When she has free time, Thompson goes to her dorm’s kitchen to prepare food that can be quickly heated up in the microwave for days when she is on-the-go. She uses a website called This Rawsome Vegan Life to gather new recipes.

    For all of her fresh and nutritious ingredients, Thompson heads to the Food Conspiracy Co-op grocery store located on Fourth Avenue.

    “The Food Conspiracy Co-op supports healthy lifestyles from the diversity of choices in our produce, grocery and bulk foods departments to the prepared foods, hot bar and salad bar items made fresh daily by the Conspiracy Kitchen,” said Kelly Watters, education and outreach coordinator for the Food Conspiracy Co-op. “All the way to the small-scale food production in the Conspiracy Garden behind the co-op and now to the educational classes we offer the community.”

    Not only does the Co-op provide the necessary means to live a wholesome and healthy life, but it also caters to vegans’ needs.

    “It’s really simple to be a vegan at the Co-op — no sacrificing needed,” said Robert Oser, Food Conspiracy Co-op owner and board member, who is also a vegan. “With all the plant-based whole foods to choose, you can choose compassion at every meal — for your health, for the planet and, always, for the animals.”

    According to Watters and the Local First Arizona News and Events website, the Co-op is giving a special offer through the Tucson Gem Show to SunGo streetcar pass holders. Customers will get half off a second item after purchasing a sandwich or salad at the Co-op.

    In addition to the Co-op, Thompson raves about Xoom Juice’s acai bowls and smoothies. Located on Speedway Boulevard, Xoom Juice is a close off-campus location that students can visit. Moreover, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, which is located on Campbell Avenue, is another convenient vegetarian restaurant.

    “If you commit to being healthy, it really isn’t that hard to keep up with it,” Thompson said. “You just have to keep in mind the importance of your health.”


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