By Aasha Amber Bhatnagar

Thinking I would be able to go to Marciano Commons’ vegan station every day after returning from spring break, I went vegetarian. That was before we heard from the university about campus closures amid the coronavirus outbreak in Boston.

If I could imagine any other scenario as to how this semester would play out, it was definitely not in quarantine at Zoom University. Now that I’m unexpectedly living at home again, it’s been a challenge to keep up with vegetarianism. 

My mom is the biggest meat and dairy eater to ever have lived; she thinks vegetarians and vegans are “unhealthy.” No matter how many times I tell her that vegans and vegetarians diets are proven to be healthier than most, she still, under her breath, mutters, “Well what about protein?” 

Vegetarian and vegan food has evolved over the years into a variety of tasty and healthy foods that are guaranteed to satisfy one’s appetite.

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with being a vegetarian in a meat-eating family, so I took it upon myself to find meat replacements when my mom would incorporate it into meals. 

I’m not going to lie, the hardest part of all of this was the time my mom wanted to pick up chicken sandwiches from Popeyes’ for dinner. I contemplated breaking my vegetarianism just once for the temporary pleasure of a spicy chicken sandwich, but what I deterred myself by remembering why I chose to go vegetarian in the first place: I’m doing my tiny part in protesting the unethical treatment of animals, helping to reduce carbon footprints and to preserve the environment. 

If the person you live with is a hardcore meat eater, it’s easy to find replacements without compromising taste. Almost every store has vegan meat and cheese replacements. My favorite meat replacements are from the brand “Beyond Meat,” and also Trader Joe’s vegan frozen meals. 

Another strategy has been challenging my mom to try new recipes or to prepare meatless versions of certain meals. For example, before I went to college, we used to eat bolognese on a weekly basis. Since I’ve come home and decided to go vegetarian, we now make new meatless meals like lasagna and eggplant parmesan instead. Though it was a challenge at first to get her to try new recipes, it ended up being a fun way to incorporate new ingredients into our dinners. 

Not only does my mom enjoy the process of making a new cuisine, but also enjoys eating it. Move over, Marciano.