Back in October 2016, I heard that the applications were open for the study abroad program in Uganda. I always wanted to go to Africa and to learn about their health and culture so here was my chance. There was only one thing holding me back, my concern about being able to follow my vegetarian diet while traveling. When you have a mom who always prepare food for you, it may be challenging to live in a different country for 21 days. No wonder then that my first question to Dr. Swahn, the professor in charge of the study abroad program to Uganda, was about the types of food that would be available. The good news were that she completely assured me that there would be plenty of food offerings, even typical vegetarian Indian food. I even checked it out on a Google search and was so relieved that food would not be an issue.
Finally in Uganda, it is time to tell my mom about the study abroad experience because I know she has been so worried about my eating. Before I left, she wasn’t concerned about what I was going to learn or even why I wanted to go. She simply asked “what are you going to eat for 21 days?” So, during my very first morning and breakfast time in Uganda I was discovering the colorful vegetarian options that I could eat (with elephant picture in the background).
The truth is, when you are born in a typical Indian family, nearly every day there is a repetition of food options as shown in the picture below. And, to some people’s curiosity, vegetarian people do not eat only salads and fruits every day.
Everyone should know about a “balanced diet” and how it is necessary for good health. A balanced diet means eating enough three times a day, and selecting food from 5 main food group options (eatforhealth.gov.au). These five groups include 1. vegetables and beans, 2. fruits, 3. grains and cereals, 4. lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, and 5. dairy products. The first week, I ate well from all five groups. I am not going to give you more details, because the pictures below show some of the awesome vegetarian food I ate. And, the pictures will tell it all.
After exploring all vegetarian food options offered, I will agree with any person who says, “You got to live once, it’s worth trying everything you can think of.” Now another PR motto for the study abroad program in Uganda could be “Study abroad, not only a valuable learning experience, but also learning a way to eat a balanced diet for the rest of your life.” Finally, I am so glad to show my mom all the great food I ate and I know she will be surprised by seeing the enormous number of photos I took of everything I ate throughout the entire program. Okay enough writing about the “balanced diet,” but there are some other balanced things I saw in Uganda. You can see that in the pictures below and join me in wondering how they “balanced” those things.