We’re Vegetarian and We’ve got Beef

One could argue that right now is the best time to be vegetarian that it has ever been. With the rise in popularity of this lifestyle, sit-down restaurants and fast food drive-thrus alike are adding countless meatless options to their menus. The freezer isles at grocery stores are stocked with a variety of meat alternatives, all boasting high protein content that could make up for what vegetarians are missing. It’s hardly ever questioned anymore in the mainstream, especially with its link to environmentalism. So that begs the question – why is it difficult in the dining halls at Baldwin Wallace?

There are, of course, some options for vegetarian students: the salad bar or the meat-free option at the grill; the occasional greasy grilled cheese. But this leaves many students wanting – Especially vegan students, those worried about cross contamination from cooking and serving utensils, and people simply wanting a little flavor or variety.

The few vegan alternatives are almost secret, hidden away in a fridge that most of the student employees seemingly aren’t even aware of. Many meatless students don’t even know about these options.

There don’t seem to be any special knives, spatulas, or serving utensils used for food with no meat at any of the counters on a regular basis. Quesadillas made at the panini grill are all cut with the same knife; those with chicken and beef and those without.

As for variety, the meatless options provided are the same few that cycle through every few days. It’s easy enough as it is to grow tired of the food in the dining halls, but when someone’s options are limited to choosing between three things every day, it’s even easier.

It’s also worth noting that if a vegetarian isn’t choosing a salad everyday – which many don’t, because that would be miserable – there’s almost no way for them to have a “healthy” option. Soggy roasted vegetables and buttered noodles don’t cut it.

Critique aside, however, this could be a potentially simple fix. Train all workers to be knowledgeable of vegan and vegetarian options and of who to go to when there’s questions about ingredients. Make sure there’s separate cooking and serving utensils used at every station. Switch up the salad bar every now and then to incorporate flavorful add-ons and plant-based protein. Be conscientious of meatless students’ other options – make sure they’re not carb heavy and have some nutritional value.

There’s never been a better time to be a vegetarian. The world has caught up, so hopefully BW follows in its footsteps.