A vegan football tailgate kind of sounds like an oxymoron when you think about it. Although the two may not seem to go well together, my husband and I made it work when we went back to see our alma mater play ball.
The University of Georgia is located in the heart of Athens, Georgia. I always knew that the city I spent four glorious years of my collegiate career had a multitude of options for vegans and vegetarians; I just didn’t realize how high it ranked compared to other US cities. Athens was recently voted by Veg News as one of the top 12 most dreamy towns for vegan living.
To start out our vegan voyage, we went to Hendershot’s to grab a cup of Joe. It was nice getting away from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta to come to a laid-back town that just goes with the flow. We slipped right back into this cozy way of life as soon as we arrived in Athens. We took our time enjoying our coffee in this cool, hipster-type java joint, and we moseyed on to the Grit when they finally opened at 10 am.
The Grit is one of my favorite eateries in Athens, even when I was an omnivore. They serve an all-vegetarian cuisine, and can easily make many of their items vegan. We ate like we hadn’t seen food in months.
And I’ll admit, I ate the majority of the food pictured above. I mean, vegan biscuits, c’mon now. Wouldn’t you?
After our gorge-fest, we strolled through campus, making our way to the stadium. I know some Georgia fans might be shocked that this was our way of tailgating, but I have to admit, it was a nice change-up to make it low-key.
My husband and I met in Athens, so you can imagine that this town has a special place in our hearts. We reminisced while walking through North Campus, pointing out the buildings we had classes in and talking about the early stages of our relationship.
Being at the game in Sanford Stadium, watching the Georgia Bulldawgs flooded me with so many memories. As I sat there in red and black, cheering on my team, I slowly realized that I’m a different person now than I was then. Confession time. I used to eat hot dogs (ew!) at 2 in the morning after the bars closed. I lived on pizza, lean pockets (mega ew!), mac and cheese, and grilled cheese. Cheese, cheese and more cheese, please. “Why don’t I ever feel right?”, asked the lactose intolerant girl. I was not healthy by any means. Veganism has opened a whole new world for me that has taught me to not only eat right, but also to be more empathetic to all living beings.
The ticker on my compassion scale is increasing every day and I am fully aware of even the minuscule amount of inhumanity. Take the sponsors of the game for example: a plethora of fast food joints providing food porn for the meat lovers, showcasing their greasy fried chicken. Or the entertainment for the fans during commercial breaks where an interviewer went on campus during a previous tailgate and dared college students to eat mayo and cheese whiz out of their own shoe. That’s right, I said shoe.
I think the saddest part of the day was what I saw right on the field (and I’m not talking about the crappy game we played against an unranked team). Uga, the real, live bulldog who sits on the sidelines every home game, is bred by the Seiler family who lives in Savannah, and it has been speculated that the Uga line is inbred. I remember several years ago when Uga VII, at the young age of four, died right after Uga VI, both from heart failure. PETA asked the university to stop breeding the dog and use Hairy Dawg as the mascot. I know so many Georgia fans who would be on board with that. All of my friends who had dogs as companions in Athens adopted them from shelters and never bought a bred dog.
I don’t want to give off the impression that I now hate football because I’m vegan. I love my Dawgs, but being at the game really showed me that we still have a long ways to go with animal rights and educating the public about veganism – even in a top vegan-friendly town like Athens, Georgia. I was snapped back to reality that I am only a small percentage of the population that doesn’t eat animals and, unfortunately, I will most likely live in a meat-centric world for the rest of my life. I’m just one person trying to carry the ball down the field to gain some yardage for the ultimate win. And, like the Dawgs, I cannot get defeated. It may be the fourth quarter and my team is down by a few points, but in order to win, I have to persevere and fight the good fight.
I’d love to hear from you if one of your pastimes has been revealed to you in a different light. Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading.