The year is 1974. My first semester at West Virginia University in Morgantown WV. Not a culinary destination to be sure. And as a new first-year college student, we were all required to stay in a dormitory for our entire first year. Meals were included in the fees and being a typically poor college student, (and before I got a job at the Holiday Inn serving dinners and cocktails), having meals in the dorm cafeteria was a given. Plus, I could then ogle the WVU football team who also stayed in one of the dorms and ate there as well. Eye candy to be sure! But, even that didn’t satiate my need to put up with really crappy fare.
I’d grown up with your basic Irish or German-type (50s-60s American style)food: meat, potatoes, salad, canned vegetables, dessert, milk, tomato soup out of a can, grilled cheese sandwiches…you get the drift. My mom was not known for any particular dish as her specialty and I never had a yen for cooking so I was in charge of making the salad and setting the table. It’s not as if I was used to eating foods of the world and had a sophisticated palette.
But, dorm food SUCKED! Especially the meats they served. Completely indigestible. It soon became clear to me that cutting out all of the choices except for salads and maybe a few possible (not overcooked) vegetables would be the way to get through my first year there.
Essentially, by default I became a “vegetarian”.
I never felt a craving to go back to meat and soon after, started doing research on my new diet leanings. I learned about sodium nitrites that were put into meat to make them look more pleasing to the human eye instead of the gray, decaying meat that one would see BEFORE this added touch was discovered to “enhance” meats. Here is just one simple description of what I found years ago:
The preservative sodium nitrite fights harmful bacteria in ham, salami and other processed and cured meats and also lends them their pink coloration. However, under certain conditions in the human body, nitrite can damage cells and also morph into molecules that cause cancer.
I kept at it, reading books like Diet for a Small Planet, an extraordinary book that further supported my new food choices and lifestyle change.
Flash forward: 2017.
I have been a vegetarian for 43 years now. I am still the same size I was in college, and I have never “dieted” to do it. It was one of THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISIONS I have ever made.
And not a minute of that has been wasted on dreaming about McDonald’s double cheeseburgers!
This is my post for Debbie Reynold's Challenge: 12 Days of Thanks Giving 2017