Vegetarian Options: Food Truck Edition

Tacos Ramirez
4.5/5 stars

As a vegetarian, tacos are one of my go-to staple meals. This being said, all tacos are not created equal. Because I don’t eat meat, getting sufficient protein is an important factor when considering what I’m going to eat. I simply cannot trifle with the shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes thrown together into a tortilla that is offered by some so- called “restaurants.”

At Tacos Ramirez, I feel taken care of as a vegetarian customer; they offer guacamole (at no extra charge), cheese and rice as part of their veggie tacos. My only com- plaint would be a lack of variety as there are only so many ways to mix up a taco. But always fresh, and always delicious, the tacos shine all on their own — although they are best complemented with a squeeze of lime and a drizzle of their signature hot sauce.

Monterrey
5/5 stars

While the Monterrey restaurant is an experience on its own, the Monterrey food truck takes it to an- other level. Somehow, they are able to keep the same great food quality, the same fast timing and the same impeccable service that they uphold at their storefront. What I really appreciate about the Monterrey food truck is its variety for non-meat-eating customers like myself; I have many options to choose from, ranging from tacos to burritos to rice dishes, and they even have a vegetarian chimichanga if you ask! I know…they really did it to us. My only criticism is that you have to get creative if you’re ball- ing on a budget; remember the beauty in ordering side dishes! Their portions do not disappoint.

Napoli
2.5/5 stars

One quick look at my instagram feed will tell you that I am a sucker for beautiful scenery. Settled in a pleasant grassy area next to the lumber store parking lot — which, let me tell you, can easily be cropped out in a photo —  the Napoli truck is the perfect place to enjoy an aesthetically pleasing slice of pizza. Unfortunately, for me, the beauty stops there. I almost feel as if, sitting under the fairy lights at a perfectly imperfect wooden picnic table across from your lover/best friend/mom/dog, you can forget that your pizza is literally charred and crumbling before your eyes. Maybe wood-fired pizzas aren’t my thing, but I honestly can’t even discuss the nature of the food, because I am immediately overwhelmed with one flavor: charcoal. Despite this, Napoli gets brownie points for its fresh mozzarella and, okay, surprisingly diverse vegetarian section of its menu.

Chirba Chirba
1/5 stars

Given America’s obsession with burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken and steak, I quickly realized that foods from other countries were my best friend. Heralding authentically made Chinese dumplings and noodle bowls that look straight out of a Miyazaki film, Chirba Chirba seemed like my dream come true. Their dumplings looked plump and flavorful, their noodle bowls dense and colorful—needless to say I was excited. That is, until, I trot on over to the truck and discover that they offer one singular vegetarian option: sweet potato dumplings.

Putting my aversion to sweet potatoes aside, I order them anyway. Chirba Chirba conveniently does not advertise these dumplings in photo form on their truck, and after receiving them, I see why. Flat and seemingly lifeless, the dumplings were already not giving a good first impression. Unfortunately, I only grew more disappointed from there.

The filling seemed to be entirely comprised of spicy sweet potato mush and, to be quite honest with you, I felt like a literal baby. Here I was, expecting a lovely vegetarian dumpling, only to find myself wiping blended potato from the corners of my mouth and hoping no one sees me consuming this boujee infant cuisine. I have heard good things of their meat dishes, but, needless to say, this vegetarian will not be coming back.

Photo courtesy Roaming Hunger

Views of the stars

If you’ve ever picked up the morning paper, or scrolled around any number of lifestyle websites, you’ve probably come across your “daily horoscope.” Dependent on planetary movement, horoscopes are said to predict anything from your day-to-day areas of opportunity to your overarch- ing critical flaw (also known as your Lilith moon). Although the scientific merits of astrology — the study of celestial bodies used to develop horoscopes — are debatable, many people feel that it can be used to further our understanding of events in the natural world.

“I think the stars control a lot more than we know,” said Clara Ruth Logan, a Virgo and CHS junior. “If you find your birth chart, it’s crazy accurate.”

According to Cafe Astrology — the leading website for finding your birth chart — a birth chart goes beyond a horoscope, as it takes into account your exact time and place of birth to more accurately identify the effects of the celestial movements in your life.

I sat down with Diamond Blue, a CHS senior and self-professed astrology skeptic, to go over her birth chart for the first time.

“I wouldn’t say I know everything about astrology,” Blue said prior to the birth chart reading, “but I do know some things; I’m not the person to go to about it or anything.”

Blue’s birth chart reveals that, like Logan, her sun is in Virgo. On the surface, it may seem like this means that Blue and Logan share similar qualities, but that is not necessarily true. Because the two were born on different days, at different times, and in different locations, their birth charts — and according qualities — are unique.

The placement of her opposition sun, for example, indicates that Blue is likely to consider both sides of any given situation.

“That’s crazy,” Blue said, in response to this placement. “My mom was just getting on me about that the other day. She told me I’m always trying to argue—always trying to see the other side of something.”

Like Blue, CHS librarian Kara Watson — a Scorpio — is willing to recognize some value in astrology, despite fair skepticism.

“I think astrology is fun and interesting,” Watson says. “I used to read my horoscope when I was little, because my dad would leave the newspaper on the table.”

As far as the scientific support for astrology, Watson is not so convinced; “I don’t really believe in it,” she says.

She does, however, admit to seeing astrological effects here at CHS.

“When we have a full moon, I notice some interesting student behavior.”

Illustration by Ruby Handa

The Side Effects of Slim Standards

My first public panic attack happened in the fourth grade when a girl brought her ringneck snake to school for pet day. Calling it a snake was generous—as its length and width more closely resembled a worm—but nevertheless, I was the only kid in class that could not handle it. I remember feeling embarrassed, sitting puffy-eyed and short of breath in the hallway, and it wasn’t until some other girl freaked out over a tree frog that I realized that everyone is afraid of something.

But more common than the fear of the dark, tree frogs or even ringneck snakes, is the fear that afflicts over 80 percent of 10-year- old girls: the fear of being fat.

“In fourth grade I was bullied by a group of girls who used to comment on how fat my stomach was,” said an anonymous CHS junior, under the pseudonym of Margo. “I wore a belt, and I would tighten it all the way until all my stomach was sucked in.”

According to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 51 percent of nine- and ten-year-olds feel better about themselves if they are on a diet. But what exactly do these diets look like?

“I would eat for three days, and then just drink water for four. Occasionally I would have a smoothie or some very low calorie snack,” said Margo. “I was exhausted. I didn’t really keep it up for that long because I got so tired. I didn’t sleep a lot. I lost a lot of hair.”

Some of the most common effects of restrictive diets, according to Dr. Kay Schlegel-Pratt—a nutritionist at Essential Nutrition in Chapel Hill—are “specific deficiencies of nutrients like protein, vitamins or minerals that are not adequate,” which can often lead to fatigue and physical weakness.

“When a person loses weight rapidly, they are losing fat and lean body mass,” said Schlegel-Pratt, also adding that “typically, rapid weight loss results in weight gain after ending the diet.”

The depletion of lean body mass is extremely dangerous, especially for growing teenagers, whose bodies can see long-term effects from stunted muscle, bone and organ growth. These diets are also often unsuccessful; Margo’s restrictive dieting followed a similar progression.

“Over time I did gain the weight back, and I would feel the need to binge,” said Margo. “You’re going to eventually break, either by going to the hospital or by trying to eat everything at once because you’ve become so tired and worn down.”

To safely manage a healthy weight, Schlegel-Pratt recommended “focusing on long-term health habits that you can keep for life” over extreme and harmful dieting techniques.

Although Margo stopped extreme calorie restriction, she still experiences social pressure to stay thin. The root of the prob- lem, it seems, is the culture that creates the ideals that these girls strive towards.

“I feel huge pressure [from] a lot of social media,” said Margo, referencing popular Instagram models.

Vast discrepancies exist between the media’s representations of the average woman and the actual average woman; according to the Center for Disease Control, the average model is 5’10’’ tall and weighs 110 pounds, while the average American woman is 5’4’’ and weighs 144 pounds.

These standards set up an almost impossible threshold to meet, and many girls grow up with misleading ideas of what it means
to look normal. “It’s not a positive mindset to have,” said Margo, regarding distorted body image. “If you want to lose weight, you need to find a safe plan for you to follow.”

Margo admitted that shifting your mindset is not an easy task. Since birth, girls are conditioned to believe that the closer you come to a specific body standard, the closer you come to being beautiful.

According to anonymous CHS senior—under the pseudonym of Arden— to begin to change the culture, we must change the language.

“It’s common to compliment young girls on their fashion sense before their abilities,” said Arden. “Comments like ‘What a pretty dress!’ can be beneficial to a girl’s self esteem, until she begins to hear those more than ‘What a thoughtful comment,’ or ‘What a beautiful art piece.’”

De-emphasizing the importance of outward image, according to Arden, is an important step in creating a culture that no longer values these dangerous standards.

“There’s this one line from a poem by Rupi Kaur that says ‘I want to apologize to all the women I have called beautiful before I’ve called them intelligent or brave,’ and I think that’s really relevant, especially in this conversation. By disconnecting the aesthetics of a woman’s body from her worth as a person with our language, we can begin to work towards a future where that sentiment actually holds true in our culture.”

Illustration by Nina Scott-Farquharson

The meat of the argument

Pro-vegetarianism, by Eliza McLamb

Hamburgers. Hot dogs. Cookouts. ‘Merica. It’s no secret that meat is a staple of the American nation; walk into any restaurant and you’re guaranteed a dish fit for a carnivore. With over 96 percent of the United States population identifying as meat-eaters, and a culture that encourages meat consumption at every turn, a meat-inclusive diet is seen as the standard — and why wouldn’t it be? Ask any meat-eater and they cite it as an integral food group in a human diet. We’ve all heard about the nutritional benefits of meat since childhood, yet rarely ask ourselves, from where?

The American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association all encourage meat consumption in a diet aimed to combat their respective illnesses. These organizations fund, organize and promote the blueprints for healthy diets nationwide—many of which are taught in public school health classes.

Children grow up under the guise that these organizations are well-intentioned and credible, despite the fact that groups like the World Health Organization have classified some types of meat as top-tier carcinogens—on par with tobacco in terms of cancer-causing elements. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that one serving of processed meat a day increases your risk of developing diabetes by 51 percent, and the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine identifies chicken as the number one source of cholesterol in the American diet. Why would these medical organizations promote foods that cause the diseases they fight to prevent? The answer lies in their corporate partners.

All three of these organizations get a considerable amount of funding from the leading meat production companies. Tyson foods, Conagra, Cargill and countless other corporations constantly pump money into the groups that provide this nutritional “education,” in exchange for the worldwide promotion of their products. But sadly, as appalling as the corporate influence on health organizations may seem, it is far from shocking.

Our national food culture is built on the consumption of meat—and clearly not because of its nutritional benefits. Animals are easy to control, house, slaughter, package and export to your favorite restaurants. McDonalds, Burger King, Chick-fil-a and Taco Bell have been among the most successful fast food chains since their inception, and vegetarians are kidding themselves if they think that it’s possible for the whole world to go plant-based. The meat industry dominates our food system in a terrifying way; poor people have very little choice when it comes to eating foods that are likely to cause them health problems down the line. It’s no accident that the leading meat production companies are heavily sponsored by top pharmaceutical industries. Hmm.

Lest you forget, everything in the Land Of The Free And The Home Of The Brave is a business. The pipeline from pharmaceutical companies, to meat companies, to medical “organizations” is just another profit-driven system. Going vegetarian is just one simple step to a long road of resistance. And truly, this systematic manipulation of an uneducated populace is a staple of the American nation. Corporatism. Deception. Meat. Money. ‘Merica.

Anti-vegetarianism, Shamael Partridge

Many people try to dissuade meat-eaters by telling us that eating meat is unhealthy for the environment. While in some cases they aren’t wrong, vegetable production and consumption can be worse than that of meat. A study in 2015 by Carnegie Mellon University has backed that eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than bacon. This means that the emissions for someone’s crisp, “healthy” salad is more than my greasy pile of bacon.

Other evil vegetarians will try to attack the meat lovers by saying that it’s unethical to consume another breathing organism, but there are no tigers in nature thinking, “Wow, it’s morally wrong for me to eat this elephant.” So why is it wrong for humans to eat animals that we find tasty? It’s all part of the food chain, and we’re the consumers.

hile I don’t condone the extremely harsh treatment of livestock raised for food, there are many companies that raise animals in humane conditions on farms. Some companies, like Kobe-Niku in Japan go as far as massaging their cattle daily and playing classical music as a means of relaxation.

While I would never bash someone for being a vegetarian, there are many valid reasons for why meat eating is the best. The first being that I simply enjoy it. It tastes good. Every time I hear the sound of a pan searing a steak, I break into my DJ Khaled “Wild Thoughts” dance. I’ll also continue to protect the omnivore lifestyle because some individuals need to eat meat to supplement their nutrition. For example, people with chronic or severe anemia need meat to retain their hemoglobin levels because they don’t get enough iron from other sources such as beans and leafy vegetables. We also need meat to gain healthy weight and stay physically stable. Especially for my people out there trying to get those gains.

A way to solve the everlasting “beef” between vegetarians and normal people is an easy one. Y’all do y’all, and we’ll do us. No pictures or facts about being a vegetarian — I don’t care. And for my meat-eating family: do your research! While eating meat is the correct way to live life, supporting companies who treat animals like meaningful creatures goes hand in hand. By supporting humane companies and local meat markets, you can sleep at night knowing that you’re doing the right thing.

A Look at Carrboro Segregation

Subarus smattered with Bernie Sanders bumper stickers, moms coming out of yoga in peace sign shirts and little boys running around Weaver Street Market in princess dresses; the slogan of the Town of Carrboro reads “feel free.” Local food markets pride themselves in being co-operative organizations — built on a sense of community, and powered by the unity of all people. A mural that depicts the United States as a “Nation of Many Colors” adorns a brick wall in the city center; it’s easy to see Carrboro as a community that respects diversity.

However, everything changes when citizens return home. As the appearance of integration and inclusivity attracts more rich white liberals to new urban developments, Carrboro’s historic residential communities face the threat of eviction. The gentrifi cation of the town of Carrboro is slowly erasing historically black communities — the very communities that built the town.

The future of historically black neighborhoods, according to the website of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center, is important to preserve. The Jackson Center focuses on stabilizing and improving the most historic neighborhood in Carrboro: Northside. Northside originated as a “service community” comprised of free blacks after the end of slavery, many of whom were contracted to do hard labor by the University of North Carolina.

After desegregation, many black businesses were replaced by the primarily white-owned businesses that now reside on Franklin Street. Even local teachers were struggling to find work as the recently desegregated schools hired almost exclusively white teachers. This disruption of infrastructure financially crippled Northside’s residents, and its effects can still be seen when comparing its median household incomes to those of white neighborhoods. Northside’s battle against gentrification in Carrboro has been a long one, and it is still not over.

The town of Carrboro took steps to recognize Northside as a Conservation District in 2004, but this did not stop the displacement of its residents. The U.S. census indicates that the African American population of the Northside area has declined more than 40 percent since 1980, as the boundaries of the neighborhood continue to shrink under recent “urban renewal” plans. In 2008, a former black business district near Northside was replaced by a condominium, housing, almost exclusively wealthy, white students attending the university. Even today, despite continued work to preserve the neighborhood, its black population dwindles;, slowly being overtaken by an influx of affluent white families and college students.

As Carrboro continues to market itself as a town with a basis in social consciousness, it must take concrete steps to meet that commitment. An inclusive community must include the needs of minorities, and if Carrboro continues to neglect the sustainability of the historically black neighborhoods, it is neglecting the sustainability of its people. If the Northside neighborhood continues to shrink, so too does the historical perspective that built the town of Carrboro.

Why I’m Leaving CHS

Among the many valedictorians living off instant coffee and the constant pressure that you may never achieve your dreams because of a three digit number, it’s easy to forget that you have other options besides living just to work yourself to death.

Last year, I realized that spending an average of nine hours per day in an artificially-lit building didn’t make me happy. I loved being outside, but I didn’t have time for it.

Between my school assignments, theatre commitments and basic human obligations (sleeping, eating, showering), I had few moments where I felt like I didn’t have anything I should be doing. I was stressed. I was sad. But honestly, I wasn’t the only person fed up with the monotony of my current school experience.

I am lucky to attend CHS—one of the best public schools in the state. However, like all public schools, it has institutionalized issues: cramped bell schedules, large teacher-to-student ratios, and students struggling to find their niche. Most students manage to bite their tongue, make it through four years, and then move on to do the things they actually wanted to spend their time on.

I started to think something was wrong with me. The daily routine of things that I didn’t even enjoy started to drive me crazy. Why do I have to spend four years of my life stuck in a perpetual groundhog day?

The truth is, I didn’t. So I decided to apply to the Outdoor Academy, located in the mountains of North Carolina. I did it to mix things up, experience something new, and more importantly, to do something I was afraid of.

The thought of waking up every morning to a mountaintop sunrise started to become less of a pipe-dream and more of a quickly-approaching reality. I was thrilled to be in smaller, more specialized classes with an environmental focus.

Admittedly, the reality of spending four months with “the world being my classroom” (as advertised) was incredibly daunting, but the problem with my life in public school is that I wasn’t doing anything that scared me. Honestly, what scared me probably more than anything else was the idea of not doing what everyone else was doing.

The typical high school culture creates mountains out of molehills instead of actually just climbing the mountains. We place value on numbers and scores and grades and not on real, genuine experiences.

Public school is not for everyone, and the simple truth is this: just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it is the best option. Non-traditional types of schooling may be better for certain students. Don’t push yourself to settle for something that may not be for you.

If you’re tired of worrying about the molehills, it might be time to find your mountain.

When the ‘Winter Blues’ get worse

On the surface, there is a lot to like about the colder months. Pumpkin patches, football games, and the holiday season are things people often cherish during the slow and scenic transition from hot summer days to chilly autumn nights. Some people, on the other hand, are negatively affected by this transition from summer to fall and winter.

Due to dropping temperatures, people tend to stay inside. A temporary feeling of “cabin fever,” resulting from prolonged time indoor, is common in the United States. For some people, though, the “winter blues” becomes something more than an inconsequential mood swing.

According to the American Family Physician, mild seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects 10 to 20 percent of the population. Although a specific biological cause has yet to be identified, many scientists agree that the problem stems from a disruption of circadian rhythm.

In the summer, the body’s biological clock is set to expect a certain amount of light at specific times. However, during the winter, seasonal changes affect sunlight levels. Some people’s internal clocks do not adjust as well as others, which leads to a physical disruption. The offset of the biological clock can cause feelings of depression. Less sunlight can also be correlated with a drop in the brain chemical that affects mood, serotonin.

As a lesser-known form of depression, SAD often goes unrecognized or undiagnosed. However, despite the fact that tangible causes have yet to be found, many doctors and therapists agree that this disorder is legitimate and therefore requires treatment. The Mayo Clinic recommends utilizing various lights in therapy as a solution for the upset of the biological  clock in addition to regular psychotherapy. The ubiquitous solution simply waiting for the seasons to change is also sometimes enough to relieve one of this disorder.

If you’re CHS senior Kevin Kopczynski, winter comes as a long-awaited celebration. He says winter is his favorite season because “It has sledding, snowball fights, days off school, Netflix binge-watching because you’re house locked…” and more.  Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. This winter be sure to bundle up, stay safe and be mindful of those who may be struggling.

Illustration by Lizzie McLamb

Local Art Opportunities

BAZAAR CRAFT AND ART MARKET

Fittingly placed in the Carrboro Town Commons, the Bazaar Craft and Art Market creates an atmosphere perfect for anyone with an appreciation for handmade items, local food trucks, and hoola hoops. Founded by Meg Morgan of High Street Designs, the Bazaar features dozens of booths selling a wide variety of products ranging from clothing and artwork to soaps and succulents. Be sure to swing by the next Bazaar on November 13 if you’re in the market for a charmingly personal product that is sure to be made with love.

ONE SONG PRODUCTIONS

One Song Productions is the perfect organization to disprove the older generation that teenagers can, in fact, accomplish meaningful things. Composed entirely of high school students, One Song produces four shows annually, in addition to the “Feb 48”, a one-act festival where shows go from being written to performed in 48 hours. Last year’s season consisted of the shows Almost, Maine, The Glass Menagerie, Stop Kiss, and Failure: A Love Story. If you’re interested in theatre and want to get involved, check out them out at 1songproductions.org.

CARRBORO MUSIC FESTIVAL

The one day that you’re guaranteed to see more strollers, suspenders, and sitars than any other in Carrboro is the day of town’s annual music festival. With hundreds of bands in dozens of locations throughout the heart of Carrboro, the festival is sure to have something for everyone. The streets are filled with people and nearly every building has its doors open, welcoming anyone to come in and enjoy the jams. Mark your calendars for this annual event; this isn’t one you want to miss!

THE MONTI

The Monti is a great platform for an amazing story, an incredible feat of public humiliation, or both. They offer two types of events: organized performances from selected storytellers, and the StorySlam; an open mic of sorts designed to give locals a shot at telling a personal anecdote in front of a live audience. Pick up a ticket at the Arts Center just to listen or, if you’re brave, put together a story of your own.