Vegetarians and vegans hope for expanded menu options in cafeteria
With the new, colorful renovations to the Florham Campus cafeteria this semester, many people thought that new food options would be added, especially for vegetarian and vegan students, who had limited options in the past.
At Fairleigh Dickinson University, eating everyday in the cafeteria can be difficult for students who are vegetarians and vegans.
Despite the fact that “vegetarian” is boldly written on one of the walls, and there is a flyer for vegan nutrition, not many additions have been made.
The one visible difference is that the cafeteria replaced the sushi bar with a vibrant fresh fruit and yogurt bar.
Vegetarian and vegan students believe that something needs to change.
Margaly Monelus, a senior, is trying to expand the vegan options in the cafeteria.
She has been a vegetarian since 2012, and a vegan for eight months.
“I’m trying to make everyone go vegan, one day at a time,” she said.
She believes that everyone should be vegan because it is healthier and more ethical. It is also an easy way to lose weight if done right. However, this has proven to be difficult on a college campus.
Monelus is vocal about how she feels about the options available in the cafeteria.
“There’s more vegetarian options because they can eat the cheesy foods, such as manicotti and mozzarella sticks, but the vegan options are definitely limited,” she said.
Walking around campus, one might hear students complain about how they’re tired of eating the same things every day.
Monelus believes that it’s even harder for vegans, saying that “most days, I’ll come to the cafeteria and eat a kale salad, guacamole or hummus on bread, or a sandwich with a few vegetable toppings. But I mostly eat the same thing every day.”
She also said that she has only seen a few attempts by the dining staff at improving the vegan options of campus, including some vegan cheeses and sauces in the cafeteria fridge, where most foods for restricted diets are kept.
Monelus looks forward to the day when more vegan and vegetarian options are added to the cafeteria, going as far as making a list of recipes to give to the dining staff.
“There are a lot of vegan foods that are easy to make and easy to purchase, like vegan pizza and vegan sorbet,” she said. “Another easy thing to do would be to make certain things that are already available vegan, like simply taking the cream and milk out of the mashed potatoes.”
If this were to happen, vegans could stray away from their usual vegetable section and wander into different areas, like the pizza section, and have more of a variety.
Chef Jeff Gourley, director of dining, has had a number of vegetarian and vegan students approach him about more options.
While he acknowledges that there may not be enough vegan options, he said that he has noticed that, in the past, certain vegan options would go to waste.
“If I make a vegan pizza and put it next to the regular pizza, most people would either take the vegan pizza without realizing what it was, and then throw it out, or just not even touch it. And then it would just sit there,” he said.
He believes this is because vegetarian and vegan students make up a smaller portion of the student population than students who eat meat.
When thinking about the future, Gourley has some ideas for new additions.
“We’re going to be getting edamame at the salad bar, and trying to come up with some vegetarian and vegan entrees, since most options now are just sides,” he said.
Gourley said that his main goal is to make sure that vegetarians and vegans have full meal options, since currently they would have to come up with their own based on a few diet-friendly sides.
It may be hard to find a long-term solution, since vegetarians and vegans are outnumbered on college campuses. However, with a rising number of students following these eating habits every year, it seems as if dining staffs are becoming aware of the changes they may need to make, and how fast they have to make them.