Plant based foods such as oat milk, noodles, and spring rolls.

Plant-Powered Students and Teachers

2 mins read

An increasing number of students and teachers have adopted more plant-based lifestyles. In a time where more mindful eating is gaining momentum, veganism has become increasingly popular, including within the student and faculty body at Menlo-Atherton.

Being vegan has received some backlash, but it is important to recognize that plant-based eating isn’t a dietary fad gone viral; rather, it’s a lifestyle rooted in health, ethical, and environmental considerations. Although the commitment to this plant-based lifestyle allows for the exploration of new recipes, it also comes with many challenges.

“I’ve found that when eating out in restaurants, there can be a negative stigma, especially when a place doesn’t have any options for me,” said junior and ten-year vegan Sofia Basso. “But I do think there are some alternatives that are actually much better than the animal-based version that makes it worth it,” she explained. 

Vegan Spring rolls

“My favorite dish to make for myself is spring rolls,” she continued. “You start with a rice paper base, filling the inside with mint, lettuce, green onion, sesame sauce, and some peanuts sprinkled on top of the wrapping. It’s awesome, really,” said Basso. “And the flavors blend together perfectly. It’s a dish that makes you realize that you don’t need animal by-products for a healthy, easy, and above all yummy snack.”

Algebra teacher Bobby Wong also shared that there can be some misconceptions when it comes to assumptions that plant-based is always the healthiest option. “Unless you can somehow find completely whole, unprocessed vegetables 100% of the time, they do have some artificial chemicals that make animal products just as good a choice health-wise.”

However, Wong was quite enthusiastic about his plant-based alternatives for his meals. “If you’ve ever had the chicken-veggie wraps from P.F. Chang’s, I used to love those before I switched to plant-based,” he said. “When I tried recreating it at home with fake meat, it was just as satisfying to eat!”

“Also, I’ve found that JustEggs, which is an alternative for scrambled eggs made from beans, actually tastes much better than standard eggs from the grocery store,” said Wong. “They’re much easier to prepare as well. They come frozen, and even come pre-scrambled.”

Basso also highlighted the vegan alternatives to traditional meat. “After trying both, I can say that Impossible Burger patties are actually much more flavorful than plain beef patties,” she said. “Also, I live on Oatly, a brand that makes oat-based dairy products. The chocolate milk has a nutty flavor that brings out the cocoa flavor more than any normal chocolate milk can.”

Wong then went on to tell how although he is less strict with an all-plant diet now, he still incorporates similar values into his everyday life. “I always try my best to stick to cruelty-free products, whether that means food or necessities at home.”

Similarly, freshman and ten-year vegetarian Sonia Haggie was inspired by family values to give up animal products. “I switched partly for ethical reasons, but my dad has always been vegetarian which really inspired me to do the same,” she said. “I love animals, so it was never really a problem giving up things like leather and not buying from brands that test on animals.”

Haggie’s family’s favorite recipe since adopting a vegetarian lifestyle is vegetable stir fry. “We often have it as a family which is something I cherish,” she said. “In place of meat in pasta, we also like to add quinoa for extra protein,” she continued. “It may sound questionable—but it’s really delicious.”

Basso added, “I’m conscious about using animal-free products as well as cruelty-free products, but I would never force it upon others. I think that’s a stereotype that will likely fade with time.”

Penelope is a sophomore at M-A, and this is her first year in journalism. She is interested in writing music reviews as well as incorporating unique student perspectives into her stories. In her free time, you can find her practicing tennis, watercolor painting, or knotting away at her growing collection of friendship bracelets.

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