Campus eats catering to vegetarians

Heidi Grieser and Heidi Grieser

Matthew James is a chef at the Bowling Greenery and plans the menu for “The Vegan Spot” in The Falcon’s Nest food court every day. This little hot box holds a vegetarian and vegan entree daily.

James and his staff run a test kitchen in the summer and are constantly looking for new recipes and depend on feedback from students to “consistently bring healthier options for vegetarians and vegans that are appealing.”

The dining services staff ensures there are animal-free alternatives at every meal in every dining center. The staff creates items based on availability of ingredients and is careful there is no contact with animal products in the preparation.

Vegetarians avoid meat and often fish while a vegan in addition to meat, avoids all animal products such as dairy and eggs. Some vegans won’t eat honey, refined sugar, or use leather products.

Daria Blahowski-Dreyer, a nutrition initiatives manager, says that most vegetarians and vegans on campus seem to be women trying to eat organic and healthy foods. More people want healthy eating options, but Blahowski-Dreyer doesn’t hear from hardly anyone who is vegan for social cause.

“If you’re a struggling vegetarian or vegan on campus we want to know,” she said. “We’re customer centric. Especially if that’s your way of life, it’s kind of heart breaking if you can’t find anything to eat.”

James and Blahowski-Dreyer both stressed that vegetarian and vegan options are a work in progress and are dependent on comment cards, recipes and feedback. You can contact dining services by e-mail or by visiting a manager at any of the dining centers.

James said all last year that two vegan women came in every week and commented on the options, and their opinions helped influence this year’s menus.

There used to be a group called BG Vegetarians, that Blahowski-Dreyer could count on to give reports of the vegetarian options on random days. She believes the group has disbanded and wishes for something in its place.

“I basically ended up buying sushi and bottled water with my meal plan because most of the time there was a vegan option, it looked disgusting,” said Ian Adcock, a vegetarian who lived in Kreischer last year.

“Often they would serve things that didn’t have meat but had all these weird processed ingredients,” Adcock continued.

Adcock says he’s been a vegetarian for five years because he’s against putting gross foods in his body. He also pointed out it’s a lot more expensive to buy a healthy salad or the vegetarian option for the meal then to fill up on cheese pizza.

“There are always options for me at the Union, where I eat most often. But I have resigned myself to eating junk food because I can’t afford to buy something substantial and healthy,” said Dylan Thompson, a vegetarian student.