Guest columnist: Students need more vegetarian/vegan food options at UT-Arlington

 

The university needs to provide more plant-based foods. It shouldn’t be that hard. One of the five cafeterias at University of North Texas dedicates all its meals to vegan, whole food options, while a second has vegan lunches and dinners. Southern Methodist University and Texas Christian University have several options for customizing meals to a vegan or vegetarian diet as well.

But at UTA, we herbivores tend to pack our own snacks and lunches because it is healthier and more satisfying, not to mention cheaper, than the narrow options we would find at school.

Many vegan/vegetarians on campus have come to the consensus that a poor selection of poorly-labeled veg-friendly options, doesn’t justify the cost. However, as college students, our schedules don’t always accommodate our appetites on busy days. We forget our food at home or don’t have time to prepare it altogether.

Eat Greener

Read more: Check outThe Broccoli Bulletin on TheShorthorn.com, where I

will provide a tutorial on how to make the best of the food choices on

campus.

Get involved: To discuss more ways to advocate for

healthier, greener and more ethical campus dining, please join us at the

first Vegan Club meeting of the semester at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in

Central Library Room 414.

In the morning, at least some fresh fruit and unsalted nuts would suffice (or better yet whole grain toast and tofu scramble). However, more often than not, we are denied these simple needs. Instead, we face bruised bananas, chips and greasy hash browns for our morning fuel. At lunch time, we may find ourselves waiting in a lengthy line at the University Center food court for a meal that is marginally healthful and veg-friendly: a Veggie Delite at Subway or vegetable sushi.

These foods may keep hunger at bay, but they don’t contain whole grains or sufficient nutrients to fuel our brains and bodies. Students cannot even rely on the availability of fresh fruit as they are inconsistently stocked. The salads offered on campus, stacked high with cholesterol from chicken, eggs, tuna salad or cheese and all on a bed of nutritionally incompetent iceberg lettuce, counterbalance any health benefits.

For a brief period last semester, the POD Market in University Center offered non-genetically modified soy yogurt, Amy’s organic frozen meals (including a gluten-free options), and two varieties of EVOL’s veggie burritos made with whole grain tortillas. But lately, the shelves for these items remain empty, in contrast to an abundance of provisions like frozen foods that follow the meat-cheese-starch pattern and, of all things, an overstock of Cool Whip.

It is easy to complain — trust me, I’ve done my fair share. However, directing our concerns to the right people could bring positive changes to the food offered on campus. Last semester, the Vegan Club submitted a resolution to Student Congress, calling for more plant-based food accessibility on campus. We received an overwhelming amount of positive collaboration from our fellow students. Other student organizations coauthored the proposal, including The Environmental Society and the Muslim Students Association. Though not all vegetarian or vegan, the groups’ members expressed their support of more vegetarian and vegan options because of health, environmental and ethical/religious concerns. Student Congress members told us that it was the longest resolution they had seen during their time in SC.

We are still waiting on the results of the resolution. But in the meantime, the Vegan Club will continue to meet with Dining Services. Last fall, we attended some Dining Services meetings and were encouraged to keep persisting and voicing our concerns, even though it may take some time for monumental changes to take place. I encourage all vegans, vegetarians and part-time vegetarians to make their interests heard.

— Ann Mai is a blogger for The Shorthorn

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