Texas Wesleyan may be located in “Cowtown” but the university is home to a diverse population of students, faculty and staff, which include vegans and vegetarians.
Academic Coordinator for Liberal Studies Beth Jackson has been a vegan for five years. She decided to make the change at age 38 after losing both of her parents to blood- and heart-related issues.
“I decided I didn’t want to go down that path,” Jackson said.
Jackson said she was first introduced to veganism by her best friend. At the time she had already cut out red meat and was only eating chicken and pork.
“Then I started looking at the vegan diet and how to be healthy on a vegan diet because you can be unhealthy vegan because Dr Pepper and chips are vegan,” Jackson said. “It is not a good diet to be on Dr Pepper and chips.”
When she first made the change, Jackson said, she spent a lot of time doing research and reading food labels at the grocery store.
“With Walmart, Target and those areas, they didn’t have vegan options,” she said.
When veganism grew popular in 2017 and 2018, there started to be many more options in the grocery store for vegans.
The hardest part about being a vegan is eating at restaurants, especially in Texas, Jackson said. She always has to make sure the waiter or waitress understands her diet.
“Say you want to order a baked potato, it sounds safe right? Oh no, they like to add butter to your baked potato. They like to add sour cream and cheese,” she said. “If you order it plain, they still bring it with butter on top.”
Jackson’s favorite restaurant in Fort Worth is a vegan place on Magnolia Avenue called Spiral Diner. She said she goes there every week.
“It is easy, and I don’t have to worry about ordering around their menu,” Jackson said.
Freshman theater major Julissa Norment has been a vegan for almost two years. She said she heard about veganism from a classmate in her junior of high school and decided to try it.
“I went vegan over the summer and I just never stopped,” Norment said. “I found it on my own and it wasn’t something that my parents raised me to do, I did it on my own.”
Norment said she did not know much about veganism when she first started, but making the change has been an eye-opening experience.
“I have never been sick since I went vegan, and I think that is pretty cool. I learned more about our environment and how we need to save our environment and recycle more,” she said.
Norment lives on campus and has a meal plan. She said that Dora’s Café and the West Express Eatery offer options she can eat.
“Last semester, I found out they had veggie burgers and I found out you just have to ask for it,” she said. “It is not exactly what they serve but it is how you can work it.”
One of the reasons Norment said she went vegan initially was for the challenge. One of the hardest parts of veganism is looking out for ingredients in food that are not vegan.
“Most people that I have talked to is like, ‘Oh I can’t give up meat,’ or ‘I can’t give up cheese,’” she said. “Really my hardest part was the stuff that are made with like milk. It is very hard to kick things with like milk and eggs.”
Senior computer science major Jaymin Prajapati is from India and he said he has been vegetarian since birth, not eating any meat or eggs.
“I come from a country where the populations is 71 percent vegetarian there,” Prajapati said.
Many people in India see animals as godly creatures. Prajapati said that cows especially are considered a sacred animal and are treated with respect.
“No one eats a cow or hurts a cow,” Prajapati said.
Prajapati said that when he was growing up his family and everyone at school were vegetarian and he did not meet a meat-eater until he was an adult. He is repulsed by the smell of meat and eggs.
“The smells gross me out,” Prajapati said. “Sometimes when someone is cooking chicken or something next to my apartment, the smells freak me out.”
Dr. Ronnie McManus, professor of religion, has been a vegetarian for 42 years. He was brought up on meat and potatoes, but after a camping trip to Colorado with a youth group in 1977, he said he had lost his desire for meat.
“It wasn’t really a great religious experience or anything like that. I remember looking at a meat in a pan, and it had all the coloration, the reds and the greens and the rainbow,” McManus said. “I began to think to myself, ‘I wonder what all I am putting in my body?’”
McManus said that 40 years ago it was not easy being a vegetarian because there were not many around. At restaurants he would have to order only the vegetables or a salad.
“What has happened in the last 25 years, is the meat substitutes. The soy and the tofu. Forty years ago, that was not around,” McManus said. “This morning I had mock bacon.”