Every student at Gustavus knows that our cafeteria is far superior to those of other colleges. But, naturally, we still find flaws in the options given to us. Seeing as this is the food we eat on a daily basis–for some people, three times a day–these opinions are certainly not unfounded. The food may be good, but repetition does decrease its value to our taste buds.
This could not be truer for a particular group of students at Gustavus: the vegetarian and vegan students. Although there is a line of options in the cafeteria dedicated to vegetarian food and options, the selection is not large compared to that for students who eat meat. The proportion of stations with meat-based options greatly outweighs those that vegetarian and vegan students can eat.
One particular obstacle for students who abide by vegetarianism and veganism is finding ways to get protein in their diets in the cafeteria.
“I’m vegetarian so finding protein in the caf is a little difficult on days where there aren’t meat substitutes and there aren’t any beans in the salad line,” Sophomore Nora Mohamed said.
It is safe to say that all students at Gustavus should not struggle to find all of the parts of a healthy diet while living and eating at Gustavus. Offering beans in the salad line, as one example, only a few days a week and not guaranteeing that option to students consistently is simply not the right approach to accommodating students of every eating variety.
As a student who adheres neither to veganism nor vegetarianism, I am, admittedly, not affected by the lack of non-meat protein options in the cafeteria. But, I see friends directly affected by the minute vegan and vegetarian options at Gustavus. Many of my close friends have to get extremely creative in order to feel full at the least. Simply existing on cereal and salads is not ideal in the slightest.
One simple fix to this issue would be to add more options that vegan and vegetarian students can eat.
“It’s nice that they provide alternative meat options but I also wish that there was more variety in the things that they served,” said Mohamed.
And the limited options are just the beginning of the issues those who are vegetarian and vegan have.
“I have some friends who are vegan and they get frustrated when things are labeled as vegan when really it isn’t. People often confuse vegan for vegetarian and put things out in the caf like vegan cheeseburgers with real cheese which is vegetarian, not vegan,” said Mohamed. It is safe to say that actions like these should not be tolerated. Not having enough vegetarian and vegan-friendly food is one thing, but saying things are vegan when they actually are very much not vegan, is a completely different ball game. The example Mohamed gave about vegan cheeseburgers is one that shows a senseless error. It is basic knowledge, especially to people who work in the food industry, that vegans cannot eat cheese seeing as it is produced by an animal.
All this would possibly require is training or education on what vegetarian and vegan students can or cannot eat. And there is no shortage of literature out there about this topic. It would take one easy Google search and an hour of the people’s time who are in charge of deciding the meals offered to students each and every day.
Seeing as being vegetarian and vegan are often hot topics in our society today, it is only common sense that these changes would be made: that more options–especially that provide protein–be offered to students and those options that are given are actually vegan and vegetarian. More and more people are making the switch to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. It is likely the numbers will continue to grow, and it is time for Gustavus to adapt at the same rate.