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Lack of Vegan Options in Valentine Dining Hall

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Lasell chapter.

Student opinions about Lasell College’s dining hall range in the areas of “It’s disgusting,” “They don’t have anything to eat,” and “It’s unhealthy.” These things may or may not be true but fact is that there is not enough vegan options. However, credit will be given where due: There is a salad bar, sandwich bar, and stir fry station which all allow a range of combinations as well as healthy choices, and the salad and stir fry are vegan friendly. But what besides that is there for vegan options? A “vegan station.” 

The vegan station at school consists of three things: Pasta, hummus with pita bread, and a side that varies every few days, like vegan coleslaw or edamame salad. Just like the home-cooked section, a different main dish should be served all the time. Pita bread and hummus is a snack, not a meal, never mind that students don’t eat the pita bread because it is burnt and flavorless. The hummus is great to have for sandwiches or to dip in vegetables and the side dish is a great addition but they aren’t meals on their own and not a dinner when put together. Pasta, stir fry, and salad are not cutting it for every day. Pasta should be limited to once or twice a week because of the carbs and it is boring to switch between stir fry and salad every day for lunch and dinner. Vegans should have more than just these options as a main dish. 

There are a multitude of vegan meals that are doable for our dining hall, and things that not just people who are vegan can eat and enjoy. Some are peppers stuffed with quinoa and veggies, baked avocados with salsa and bread crumbs, buffalo chickpea pizza with white garlic sauce, or veggie burgers, zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash, Portobello wellington or stuffed mushrooms, and countless soups. 

Including a lack of options, there are also a lack of drinks and condiments. Almond, coconut, and soy milk is a trend that has become popular for everyone today, and offering those could satisfy many. Cooking with these alternatives to animal milk could make a lot more available to vegan eaters. Vegan butter, vegan cream cheese, and vegan sour cream are all available in stores, too. Studies have shown that taste between these vegan and non vegan options vary little, if any, from their counterparts.

An issue for vegans is a matter of protein and the dining hall should create a more extensive non-meat selection of protein including an update to the salad bar. Quinoa is an easy way to incorporate protein into main dishes, but things like chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and poppy seeds are simple things that could be added for salads. In addition, most of the dressings offered actually contain milk and/or eggs so offering some without would please vegans and be healthier for students, without playing with the taste. Offering fruit, like apple pieces or mandarin oranges would spruce up a salad and add a time slot where people can intake a serving fruit, as many students don’t get any or enough throughout the day. 

The University of Maryland has a plentiful amount of vegan options and entrees on a daily basis including a vegan soup of the day and they have a “Vegetarian/Vegan Advisory Board” composed of students, the school dietitian, a student employee, and dining hall managers. They meet monthly to test recipes, with the goal of improving the vegetarian menu and adding more vegan choices. PETA features a “Favorite Vegan-Friendly College Contest” where it recognizes both small and big schools who have an outstanding vegan menu. Bates College was the winner for the small college level in 2014, and this link (http://features.peta2.com/vegan-colleges-2014/#) shows the many things these schools are coming up with, including vegetarian meats and vegan desserts. By following example, Lasell could change from being unhealthy with few options to healthy with many options.

Obviously, being a small school, it is hard to offer many different kinds of foods for different audiences, but there are small steps we can take to improve the vegan eating and even general health in the dining hall overall.

Photos provided by 1, 2, 3, 4

Katelynn, Lasell's chapter treasurer, is a Fashion Communication and Promotion major at Lasell with a double minor in Graphic Design and Event Management. She just returned from a semester abroad in Florence, Italy and this is her second year writing for Her Campus Lasell. Along with being a part of Graphic Design League, POLISHED Magazine, Hope For Humanity, and the Lasell College Honors Program, Katelynn is a lover of cats and vegan food.