By Jacqueline Jedrych
The decision to stop eating meat is one that many make for health, environmental, or moral reasons. In a study in conjunction with So Delicious Dairy Free, OnePoll found that nearly 59% of Americans eat plant-based meals at least once a day, and one in three consider themselves Flexitarian, eating meat sparingly. Vegetarian Times found that approximately 7.3 million people in the United States are vegetarian and 0.5% of those, approximately 1 million, are vegan. Vegetarianism and veganism are growing movements, especially among young people. According to PETA2, veganism/vegetarianism on college campuses has risen by 50% in the last 10 years. With so many students opting for meat-free choices, has Catholic University met their needs?
For vegetarian students, the Student Restaurant has a selection of options, with all vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/dairy-free foods labeled appropriately. For breakfast, there are eggs, bagels, oatmeal, and fruit available. Pasta, salad, fries, pizza, grilled cheese, and some meatless soups are available for lunch and dinner. There is also a vegan section with a different meat-and-dairy-free option every day. With a variety of options daily, eating vegetarian here is not difficult. However, several students still find these options in the Student Restaurant to be extremely limited.
“I do find it very difficult to eat on campus,” said Lily Samaha, a vegetarian Catholic University freshman. “Most of the time I just eat cereal in my room.”
Catholic University’s Student Restaurant is the most easily accessible food service on campus. Freshmen and sophomores must get the all-access plan, while other members of the Catholic University community are able to purchase the all-access or other block plan dining options.
The other main restaurants available to students are the Food Court and Murphy’s Grill. The Food Court has options from many different restaurants, like Which Wich, Chick-fil-A, and Fusion. The options for vegetarians are slightly more limited here. There are two salad bars and a Tex-Mex bar, both of which can be made without meat. There is a pre-made vegetarian sandwich as well as a veggie burger option at Which Wich, along with pizza. The options are even further limited for vegans, who can basically only have the salad and Tex-Mex bars. However, to qualify the meals for a meal swipe, many require specifications with few veggie options.
Murphy’s Grill has a number of vegetarian options on its main menu, but only a few on the meal exchange program; the Portobello Vegetable Sandwich, Roasted Pear Salad, and the Four Cheese Grilled Cheese. The other salad offered on the meal exchange has Caesar dressing containing anchovies, making it not vegetarian. Diners can find grilled cheese at almost every other restaurant in the Pryz, and vegans have no options on the menu, apart from sides. However, as every person with dietary restrictions knows, menus can be hacked to fit your needs. Alterations, such as removing the bacon from the Bacon Mac & Cheese, make the meals suitable for vegetarians while removing the cheese from the pear salad or the mushroom burgers makes them vegan.
Although finding vegetarian options isn’t too difficult at Catholic, some may find the meals repetitious. There is a limited number of days in a row that you can eat a salad and fries before it becomes boring. The healthy options for vegetarians are also not very diverse. There are salads and fruit, but most of the other options are things like pizza or grilled cheese. Although these are popular and good comfort food, Catholic University lacks vegetarian options of substance.