Everybody loves food– but not everybody loves, chooses or tolerates the same types. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, allergy-prone or even kosher, UMD may or may not fit your standards for the diet you desire and the accessibility and logistics behind it. Freshman Emily Hargreaves, who is a recent transfer from Fairfield University and a devout vegetarian, gave her opinions on campus food selection and the culture surrounding her lifestyle.
Q: How long have you been a vegetarian and how was it initially received?
Since my freshmen year of high school, so five years now. My cousin was a vegetarian and because I admired her, I kind of emulated how she ate and it stuck. Plus, I have never really been a huge meat fan. At first, my parents were a bit skeptical because they didn’t want to cook different foods just for me, but eventually, they enjoyed cooking more variety and were happy that I was happy. I also have friends who are vegetarian as well, so it makes it easier when going out.
Q: How does the food at UMD compare to your previous school’s?
There was a larger selection at Fairfield and it was easier to eat healthier. There were tons of yogurts and fruits 24/7. It was a smaller school, which probably made food quality and quantity easier. There was also more color when it came to vegetable variety. Here at UMD, the food is more diverse overall though and they try to switch it up often.
Q: Is it easy to accommodate your diet within our dining facilities?
I would say somewhat. They are actually very accepting of various food preferences and aware of allergies. They are very clear with their signs on what ingredients may be in a dish, and they always have Sprouts (vegan station) available. Sometimes I wish there was more variety because I tend to gravitate towards the same things, but at the end of the day, the consistency is somewhat comforting too.
Q: What is your advice for fellow vegetarians/vegans at UMD?
The salad bar at the South Campus Dining Hall is definitely the best; you should go there. I love loading up my greens with beans, quinoa and seeds to get in important nutrients. Also, the tofu nuggets are awesome and there is always some sort of vegetable or fruit that should work for you regardless. Check out places off campus too if you are looking for something new. There are definitely places near Route 1 that are accommodating and tasty.
Ultimately, make sure you are eating well! Get enough protein — load up on chickpeas, peanut butter and the occasional piece of fish if you feel comfortable slightly expanding your diet. I also take vitamins to ensure I am fully getting what I need. Also, stock up on snacks for your dorms just in case you aren’t satisfied with the selections of the day. I really love sweet and salty goodies!
Q: What is a stigma about vegetarians/vegans that you wish would disappear?
That we aren’t all activists that are uber passionate about animals…there is a wide variety of reasons that a person chooses to not eat meat, varying from culture to health. Some people are vegan for that reason, and more power to them. Just because you eat meat doesn’t mean I get offended personally, I just prefer to not eat meat. If you eat a hotdog and offer me one, I will politely say, “No thank you, I’m vegetarian,” and that is the end of that. You don’t have to say “Oh my gosh I am SO sorry I hope I am not offending you.” You aren’t. Live your life and eat what you want.
Q: What is a pet peeve of yours as a vegetarian/vegan?
When places that I go to eat just offer me a salad because they think that salad is all I can eat or they don’t know how to expand their options. There are so many awesome and flavorful dishes that aren’t just lettuce and tomato for vegetarians/vegans. I would like the variety that everybody else gets, especially since there are so many awesome meat alternatives nowadays. I have meat-eating friends who sometimes eat options from Sprouts and can barely tell the difference!