Veggie Heart

The Conflict of Being a Vegan… But Loving Bacon

A group of crossfitting vegans walk into a bar—which lifestyle choice do they tell you about first?

Well, it can go one of two ways:

1. The more hardcore crossfitter will preach about how alcohol is “totally going to sabotage my morning workout swell.”                

2. The more hardcore vegan lets everyone in the bar know “I can’t eat THAT because I’m a vegan.”

Just the mention of crossfit is guaranteed to make eyes roll, but the vegan answer is more in depth.

The latter of the two responses can be received as standoffish or aloof, even if it’s delivered in a chirpy manner. Onlookers are often confused as to why anyone would openly reject a commonly accepted food and suggest a different, healthier, choice.

Simply put, it’s a combination of laziness, peer pressure and personal drive that often determines why people choose a nonvegan path.

I did the whole vegan thing for 12 months—it was great removing dairy and meat from my diet, I had a lot more energy and I was in better shape. But sometimes life gets in the way.

Commuting from work to an internship and school makes it tough to stay true to hardcore veganism. Cost of healthy foods can be outrageous, and convenience of less healthy options throughout a busy day makes it almost unrealistic (thanks a lot, Jersey Mike’s).

At most, I can usually manage packing lunch for myself maybe twice a week because it’s time-consuming going to the grocery store, making it and packaging it all. So I tend to eat out a lot, and considering the fact that the vegan joints around Long Branch are pretty slim pickings, I do not stay close to my vegan roots.

If you, like every other college kid, are too busy and in a rush, snacks will save your life. There are these nutty fruity snacks called Kind bars which are the bomb—look them up. Also, you’d be surprised at how far a couple pieces of fruit (apples, oranges, bananas) can take you. Stay away from grapes though, they smush too easily in a bag, which can really ruin your day.

But let’s be honest, bacon is the main thing that keeps me a nonvegan, despite all of the piles of evidence that should convince me otherwise. Any food with bacon on it is most likely delicious; it’s hard to part ways with such a miracle food. I acknowledge the fact that a vegan diet reduces chances of heart disease, diabetes and helps with various digestive problems, but bacon is just so dang good.

Then there’s the peer pressure factor. No one wants to be that guy at the family holiday party who says, “Oh, I can’t eat THAT because it’s not vegan.” Everyone just shakes their head and then your grandma calls you a dirty hippy while you go make a separate plate (can’t make this stuff up).

Then there is the peer pressure of following the college lifestyle. Going to Asbury’s Biergarten for delicious brats or Johnny Mac’s for yummy personal pizzas acts as social peer pressure as well. If those delectable foods are around me, especially with alcohol… game over.

However, there are other social pressures from surrounding cultures to go vegan. If you attend Monmouth, you are well aware of the hipster like vibe Asbury Park displays. To adhere to the local demands, a rather unique vegan place called Seed to Sprout has opened in Avon by the Sea and Fair Haven. I go as often as I can. If you are able to find a local place that promotes veganism, the task of committing to the lifestyle will become much easier for you.

Although finding a vegan store may help your journey, it all comes down to the mental game. Remind yourself of the positives of veganism as opposed to some greasier alternatives.