Meal options not growing on vegans

As a vegetarian on campus, your options are present but variety is scarce.  As a vegan, your choices are even more limited.  It seems the meals offered are either too heavy or greasy, or leave your stomach crying for more.  Meals range from unhealthy, carbohydrate-loaded pastas to roasted eggplant and tomato soap.  There’s not much in between to satisfy the hunger of an herbivore.

However, on Aug. 29, the first day of school at the University of North Texas, students were given a new alternative for their meals: an all-vegan dining hall.  The new dining facility, known as “Mean Greens,” came by the popular demand of students and offers them a wide variety of all-vegan courses, including vegan ratatouille, pumpkin bread, vegan waffles and vegan desserts.  Even the students who are not vegans are enjoying the food and the health benefits it offers.

    So, could this dining hall innovation work at St. Edward’s?  Well, maybe in a smaller format.  Austin is certainly vegetarian- and vegan-friendly, and there are bound to be more than a few “veggies” on campus waiting for better meal options. However, a whole dining space dedicated to vegan food may be too much.  Plus, the University of North Texas has five dining halls, while we have two, leaving them with more space to work with.

The Ragsdale cafeteria and Hunt Café could easily increase their vegetarian and vegan items or have sections providing only vegan meals.  If the school were to use some of the available dining space for a new vegan menu, all St. Edward’s students could benefit in some way from the new food.  For vegan and vegetarian students, it would mean they could finally eat something they wanted instead of taking only what they could find.  For all other students, it would provide the opportunity to choose a healthier meal.

    Most students want to avoid the “freshman fifteen” and stay healthy throughout their college years.  Many people who adopt a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle do so to improve their health and eating habits.  Bon Appétit Company, which manages over 4,000 dining facilities including the ones at St. Edward’s, said that in the 2005-2006 school year vegetarians made up eight percent of college students and vegans only made up less than one percent.  When they performed the same survey for the 2009-2010 school year vegetarian students increased to 12 percent and vegans to two percent: a 50 percent increase.

    Veganism and vegetarianism are becoming rapidly more popular, and many people have found them to be beneficial to their lifestyles. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the university to provide the growing population of vegan and vegetarian students with better meal choices. As St. Edward’s continues to grow so should their dining options.