Public airways have been amassed with overwhelming dieting propaganda in the last 30-some years. “Don’t eat carbs,” preach some. Others discourage consumption of vegetables, while still others swear by baby food.
While Gerber might have the secrets to healthy infant nutrition, adults have clashed over how to best feed their bodies. And whether we’re swearing off the sourdough or living off legumes, no one school of thought has it quite right. Among the slew of fad diets, there exists lifestyle diets: vegetarianism, veganism, gluten-free and more.
The commitment to alter one’s lifestyle, however, can often be overshadowed by the availability and diversity of food options. And living on a college campus – meccas of fried, greasy goodness – can strictly limit those possibilities.
In a study conducted by gastroentologists at Mayo Clinic earlier this year, nearly 1 percent of Americans live with Celiac’s disease – a disease causing gluten allergies. It is “four times more common now than it was 50 years ago,” according to the study.
The shift toward a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle has also been on the rise: According to a 2012 study done by the Vegetarian Times, approximately 7.3 million Americans are vegetarians, and approximately 1 million are strict vegans.
USA Today reported in April of this year that around the country, several university campuses have noted this national shift, which has been especially popular among college students, and are altering their dining options accordingly.
A cousin of vegetarianism, veganism forbids meat, as well as all animal byproducts, including dairy, eggs and, often, purchasing furs and leather.
Sophomore history major Paul Devastey is a non-strict vegan, adhering on most days, but allowing himself meat on occasion.
Devastey started as a vegetarian and had a “gradual process” into veganism, he said. He has been a vegan for more than six months.
“For one, my brother is already a vegetarian, he does it morally,” Devastey said. “So there isn’t that much meat in my house to begin with.”
“Me, I never liked cheese as a kid, I never liked cereal. I’d have it with water. Now I do it with coconut milk,” he added.
Devastey said the change to vegetarianism was difficult, but moving into vegan territory wasn’t as difficult.
Once a wrestler, Devastey admitted to missing meat sometimes, and will occasionally allow himself to eat it.
“At nicer restaurants, I will, but not at fast-food restaurants or anywhere around [Main Campus],” he said.
Devastey will get tomato pie pizzas or falafel at the Middle Eastern establishments on Main Campus, but steers clear of the typical American food.
“At home, I do eat veggie burgers,” he said. “This one veggie burger at this one place on campus is just horrible, and they just squash a few pieces of broccoli.”
In regards to the limited vegan options on Main Campus, Devastey said he’s “surprised.”
“Temple’s a pretty big art school, so I would think there would be more vegan restaurants close by, but I guess there’s not a demand,” he added.
Devastey did note that there is at least one vegetarian option at most establishments on Main Campus, but vegan can be more difficult when he orders something without knowing it comes with cheese.
“You just get pissed off because they don’t even tell you,” he said.
Devastey, a commuter from Northeast Philadelphia who eats mostly at home, noted that it must be more difficult for vegans who have to cook at home.
“I would just eat Ramen noodles,” he said.
Vegan options on Main Campus can often be limited to tofu or veggie burgers, as Devastey said.
While Eddies and the Sexy Green Truck – both located on Montgomery Avenue outside the Student Center – offer veggie and Boca burgers, little else is available for vegetarians or vegans.
Often, those who adhere to a gluten-free lifestyle do so for health purposes, especially a gluten allergy.
Gluten-free diets often don’t count calories or servings, but instead stress eating as many vegetables and lean proteins as the eater chooses. This spin of the diet is known as Paleo, and is based off what cavemen ate in the Paleolithic era.
Gluten is found in its natural state in many grains, including oat, wheat and bran; finished products containing gluten include bread, pasta, cakes and other baked goods, processed meats such as hot dogs, and beer, according to Mayo Clinic.
The diet instead stresses legumes, seeds, quinoa, vegetables, eggs, fresh meat and dairy products.
Devastey, who used to work in a grocery store, said the store’s gluten-free options were limited to a small section of an aisle.
“It’s really expensive, it’s more expensive than buying organic,” he said.
Tai’s Vietnamese, located on the 12th Street Food Pad Vendors, sells a chicken salad that strays far from the tired grilled chicken and iceburg lettuce offerings of Tai’s neighbors. With chicken similar to Korean barbeque, and a large serving of fresh veggies, including cucumbers, red onions, lettuce, julienned carrots and tomatoes, Tai’s salad has garnered many gluten-free fans.
While chickpeas are considered very starchy, as is rice, they are still gluten-free for those craving carbs.
Ali’s Middle Eastern, also on the food pad, offers a falafel platter consisting of falafel balls, rice, hummus and a small serving of lettuce and red onions.
Qdoba is also a viable option. Self-proclaimed “glutards” will skip the burrito and opt for a lettuce bowl with chicken or steak, black beans, fresh salsa and guacamole.
Alexis Sachdev can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @lexsachdev.