The Stuyvesant Square: Food, Grades, Sleep, Social Life

This article will look at some diets of students inside stuy, from modern ones to religious and medical diets, attempting to answer the question: how does stuy eat?

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Stuyvesant is known for breeding a competitive academic environment. How do different students deal with these stressful conditions? And how do students manage the square (consisting of food, grades, sleep, social life), rather than a triangle, to acknowledge their specific dietary needs?

Ayala Sela (Pescetarian/Kosher):

Sophomore Ayala Sela has been kosher—a diet governed by Jewish law that prohibits the mixing of milk and meat and only allows certain types of meat—all her life. But it was only toward the end of the eighth grade at NEST+M when she began to feel passionate and cared about what she was eating and where it came from. Sela decided to become a pescetarian that year. She described, “I think it came on from watching way too many National Geographic documentaries for my living environment class [...] I think another project that year was about animal rights and how they were being treated. It made me lose my appetite, and it wasn't really hard for me [to avoid eating certain types of meat], so life went on.”

Since then, Sela has had no reason to stop. She explained, “I don't feel limited by my choices, and I still stick to the same moral ideas as to how animals should be treated.” One reason Sela does not feel limited by being a pescetarian is that she was already somewhat constrained by being kosher.

Emma Donnelly (Vegan):

When most of us make our New Year’s resolutions, we keep them for a maximum of one week. But sophomore Emma Donnelly’s New Year’s resolution in 2017 was to refine her diet, and she has stuck to it ever since.

Donnelly’s diet consists mainly of “vegetables and fruit along with starch, grains, and fish,” she listed. She does not eat dairy (due to a partial allergy) or meat (for moral and environmental reasons) and tries to avoid processed foods like candy and cookies. Like Sela, Donnelly has not had a lot of trouble sticking to her diet. “Maintaining my diet at home has not been too challenging,” she described. “However, it can be hard to find foods that are compatible with my diet when I go to out to eat at restaurants or cafes. Sometimes, I crave foods, […] but I am able to resist the urge by thinking about the foods I can eat like smoothie bowls!”

Emily Chervinsky (Kosher):

Sophomore Emily Chervinsky maintains a kosher diet, one that is “praised upon by God and that God allows,” she explained. But she has not been this way all her life; Chervinsky only began keeping kosher when she started becoming more religious and understanding more about Judaism around two years ago.

Both Chervinsky and Sela bring lunch from home, making it easier to stick to their dietary restrictions. Chervinsky also thinks that living in New York City has made it much easier for her to keep kosher because there are many kosher options available around the city.

Leah Rosenthal (Vegan):

For senior Leah Rosenthal, being vegan is much more than a diet. “It’s a way of eating, but it’s also a lifestyle and a belief system,” she described. “It made me more active and vocal in things that I believed in.” But Rosenthal’s veganism did not spark out of thin air; she was born into a vegetarian household and converted to veganism when she was 10 years old. Rosenthal hopes to keep her vegan diet for her whole life.

During her sophomore year, Rosenthal tried to make her diet even stricter by starting with the military diet, a meal-plan that claims to help you drop 10 pounds in just one week. But she quickly realized that this was not a sustainable plan and instead decided to “be healthy but not put [herself] on any restrictions,” she said.

Lara Somoroff (Pescetarian):

Most of us cannot imagine a life without eating meat. Sophomore Lara Somoroff felt the same way until she saw her friend become a vegetarian and wondered if she could do the same. As Somoroff began to cut back on meat, she discovered that to her, meat did not even taste very good. She currently follows a strict pescetarian diet and plans to keep that diet for the rest of her life.

Somoroff’s diet means a lot to her. First, it is a way of maintaining control. “A diet is the only way to have control of your body, along with exercise,” she explained. “Disciplining to eliminate something can be really good for you and beneficial for your body, and you can see the effects on your body.” Furthermore, Samaroff feels accomplished when she restrains from choosing unhealthy foods, such as sweets. Another reason Samaroff has continued her diet is due to her concern for where food comes from. Samaroff elaborated, “It’s me having to rely on something else for my food supply [that I don’t like]. Someone has to be there, it has to be killed, and it’s a whole process. I just don't want that reliance. Fruits, vegetables, and plants—they grow every year.”

For the future, Samaroff considers eliminating fish and dairy from her diet. But for now, she is happy that New York City has the necessary resources for maintaining a healthy pescetarian diet.

Ezekiel Kazuo Stahl:

Ezekiel Kazuo Stahl, unlike other students who abide by a diet, does not have strict rules for what he can and cannot eat. Instead, Stahl simply tries to keep an overall healthy diet. For him, this includes limiting sugary foods and fatty foods to once every few days. However, Stahl tries to keep in mind that having high-sugar foods is not necessarily bad for his body because of how one’s body metabolizes sugar; if it is small enough in amount, then the body will not react negatively to the sugar. Stahl also prioritizes fitting all three meals of the day into his busy schedule. Ideally, these meals are protein-filled.

Lastly, Stahl believes that dieting alone will not fix any issue. He explained, “You can change your diet and your lifestyle, but purely dieting is just going to be dangerous for your health.” Additionally, dieting without medical consultation can have unintended negative effects.

The diversity of Stuyvesant’s student body is mirrored well in the diverse diets that Stuyvesant students follow, ranging from students keeping strict vegan diets to people who only try to avoid certain foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle.