Dietary restrictions during the holidays


Certain students at Berkeley High School have different dietary restrictions that prevent them from eating some “classic” Thanksgiving foods: The roasted turkey, the warm mashed potatoes, or  sweet pecan pie. These students have restrictions ranging from vegetarianism, to nut allergies, to lactose intolerance and more. They all have their own ideas of a Thanksgiving family meal, all very unique. 

Zara Manansala, a freshman at BHS, does not eat red meat. Each of her family members have varying restrictions: Her mom is vegetarian, her dad has no restrictions, and both Manansala and her brother do not eat red meat. In her everyday life, this restriction doesn’t affect her greatly. “I have oatmeal for breakfast, and lunch or dinner is usually pasta.” For Thanksgiving, she eats sides like mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, and bread. Because most of her family is vegetarian, “The meal is usually meat-free, or has meat-free options.” said Manansala. 

The only times this restriction affects her is if she goes out to eat at a restaurant, a friend’s house, or summer camp. If she eats at home the meal usually has no meat. “At summer camp, they have only hot dogs and hamburgers (mostly) so there isn’t much for me to eat,” she said. She adds that she has been staying away from red meat for her whole life. “It’s by (the) choice of my parents,” said Manansala.  

Another BHS student with a dietary restriction is Max Glater-Chacon, who has a peanut allergy. He’s had this restriction for his whole life, and could go into anaphylactic shock if he eats peanuts. “I can eat almost everything on Thanksgiving, My favorite is the cranberry sauce or the pie,” said Glater-Chacon. His family doesn’t make accommodations for him on the holidays. “I know to avoid foods that might have peanuts,” he said. 

According to Glater-Chacon, his peanut allergy only “affects (his) life because (he has) to be a little more careful when sharing food or eating at a restaurant.” However, he added that it does not affect his day to day life at all. 

Zeia Bachrach, the founder of the Meatless Monday club, is vegetarian by choice. Her Thanksgiving meal is usually “all the typical sides without meat base, and no turkey.” This is very similar to Manansala, who also doesn’t eat most types of meat. Unlike Manansala, she’s the only one in her family who is vegetarian, and she’s hasn’t eaten meat for the last four years. Her family usually doesn’t have to make Thanksgiving accommodations for her, because “usually the sides are vegetarian already, so there’s no need.” She added that “(being vegetarian) is only a little bit more difficult when (she’s) at a new person’s house or eating out.” A classic breakfast for her is usually eggs or toast for breakfast, the vegetarian cafeteria option for lunch, and some kind of soup, bread, or rice for dinner. 

Bachrach’s inspiration for founding the Meatless Monday club was when she was “looking for a tangible way for individuals to get involved in fighting climate change,” she said. The club is now inactive, but getting it started was all she had hoped for. “We got student discounts for Meatless Monday at three restaurants and made Meatless Monday a familiar name around school,” said Bachrach, “Monitoring my meat consumption felt like the first way I could have an impact. I wanted to give my peers the same opportunity, by raising awareness about the impact of a small decision, like what to eat for lunch on a Monday.”