Vegetarians and vegans want to eat too


Cartoon by: Annie Wheeler

Paige Sheppard

Current first and second year students at Augustana are required to have a meal plan, all of which cost over $5,000; however, vegan and vegetarian students can hardly eat for all they’re paying for.

Although Augustana has been increasing the amount of vegetarian options on campus, vegan options are still more than limited, making a healthy diet difficult to manage. Since Wild Thymes is closed Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, finding meals for plant-based diets are even harder on the weekends.

While Augustana always ensures at least one vegetarian entree every day of the week, the same does not go for vegans. For the week of Oct. 14, 2019, the Gerber Center prepared 41 dinner entrees for people without dietary restrictions, 34 dinner entrees for vegetarians, and only six dinner entrees for vegans over the course of seven days. These numbers do not include sides, pasta bar, salad bar or breakfast station which do offer more vegetarian and vegan options like cereal, pasta, salads and sandwiches.

To be fair, Bella Luna does make personal size vegan pizzas for students who ask, but most students are unaware of this. Augustana should advertise their vegan options more regularly so students can take advantage of them.

The number of options are lowest for people with dietary restrictions on the weekends. On Sunday, there are seven dinner entrees including meat, only one vegetarian dish and nothing but sides available for vegans. If Wild Thymes were open during the weekend, vegetarians would have more than one option to choose from for dinner, and vegans might finally get a chance to eat more than just a salad.

In addition to the Gerber Center menu, the Brew, the C-Store and Gus’s Snack Bar have far fewer meals available for plant-based diets. They offer cereal, salads, eggless-egg salad, “chicken” wraps, veggie and hummus wraps for vegans and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for vegetarians. If Augustana made their PB and J’s on different bread, then that could be an easily-added vegan option too.

Gus’s Snack Bar only pre-makes the meat options even though they have vegan Boca burgers. Again, since they do not advertise Boca burgers or have any pre-made, many students who would take advantage of this healthy option are not even aware it’s available to them. Additionally, the Snack Bar could make some walking tacos with beans instead of beef as another easy vegetarian option.

Augustana could introduce more meat substitutes, beans, soy, whole wheat, nuts, seeds or plant-based dairy in order to be more inclusive of all dietary needs. Just because there are a few vegan options currently, does not mean they are the most healthy. Mixed vegetables and rice for lunch and dinner most nights of the week does not constitute a healthy diet. Plus, increasing options for vegans means increasing options for everyone.

Having seven times the amount of available entrees for meat-eating students compared to vegetarian or vegan students any day of the week is unacceptable, especially if the vegan option is nonexistent altogether.

Augustana either needs to prioritize offering healthy meals to all students, or they need to reevaluate their meal plan options to better represent all dietary needs.