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The BG News
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February 22, 2024

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On-campus vegetarians face a vicious cycle

The strive to be ethical has influenced the behavior of human beings since the introduction of philosophy.

The way in which man tries to be ethical has changed according to time and circumstance, but the end result has always been a push toward being moral. For an increasing portion of campus, the moral decision is to give up meat.

According to the Vegetarian Resource Group, 2.3 percent of Americans are strict vegetarians.

The group further projects that the numbers are higher amongst college students and college graduates.

The increasing proportion of college students turning to vegetarian lifestyles has influenced university administrators at all levels.

Colleges around the country have listened to consumer demands and are now providing vegetarian alternatives in their dining facilities. And why shouldn’t they?

But the road to the moral high ground is not without its hurdles.

While it has been the general trend for universities to make vegetarianism accessible to their residents, students at BGSU have been left wanting.

When searching for a meal on campus, vegetarian meals do not exactly jump out at you. Dining halls are generally hit or miss (unless you like salad every day), and the campus grocery stores are similarly spotty.

One can easily count on one hand the varieties of meatless soups, frozen meals, and meat substitutes available in Chily’s or Temptations, the campus grocery stores.

These small items are staples for any vegetarian: necessary for proper nutrition.

While several students I’ve spoken to have praised the university in its increasing efforts, current policy does everything but help a young vegetarian.

So what is this policy? And how does it hurt anyone?

Consider next year’s freshman class. Vegetarians from this class, much like every class before it, will be forced to live on campus for the first two years of schooling.

Along with required living arrangements, the University also makes the minimum meal plan necessary for all residents.

Freeze! OK, what does this mean? Well, freshmen not only have to live on campus, but also must buy the university meal plan. OK, now let’s continue.

As I’ve noted, and previous articles in The BG News have reported, the vegetarian selection on campus is lacking. So what’s a vegetarian to do?

Well, one possibility is that he or she shops around, eats a salad for 50 percent of meals, and relies on spotty alternatives for the rest of his or her nutrition.

The other alternative is that a vegetarian may decide to buy groceries at Kroger or Meijer, where the selection is much better.

This option does not seem like a bad idea until one considers that there are major limitations to store-bought food.

For one, vegetarian supplies from a non-campus grocery store tend to be things that require a fully functioning kitchen: You can’t cook vegetarian lasagna in your dorm room microwave.

There is also the possibility of using the residence hall kitchens” but when you consider that you’ll have to do this every day, check out a key, gather supplies, wait in line, both cook, and clean in a timely manner, and return they key, this chore quickly becomes daunting (especially if you’re only cooking for yourself).

The other problem associated with buying food off campus is that it costs real money.

But wait, so does a meal plan. In fact, because a freshman is required to buy the meal plan, there is a minimum of $1,000 that he or she cannot spend on grocery store food.

Additionally, let’s suppose that a particular freshman happens to have enough money to sink into a meal plan, and can still afford to buy groceries off campus.

If the freshman is buying supplementary food, chances are high that he or she is not going to use the entire meal plan during the semester.

One year ago, this would not have been a problem because when the student moves off campus, his or her meal plan monies would have remained credited, allowing that they can still be used.

But as of next year, students can either use all of their meal plan, or they forfeit the remainder.

I don’t mean to suggest that this is purposeful, but it seems that the policies of BGSU are inherently against vegetarianism.

It’s too bad that for many compassionate students, this is also a policy against morality.

Send comments to Chad Puterbaugh at [email protected].

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