When many St. Mary’s students think of vegetarianism, memories flood back to the absolutely authoritarian regime that was Meatless Mondays. The violation of many students’ rights as corn fed, beef-eating, cholesterol-inducing Americans to eat as much meat as is provided to them was a mass travesty by those who want to see the American Dream die. This type of sentiment, as overly exaggerated as it is here, has put a hamper on the various programs that might have promoted meat-free options within the Great Room, even though there are vegetarians on campus who did not and would not support measures like Meatless Mondays.
As a result of this, there are still limited options for those who do not eat meat. It would be dishonest not to acknowledge the existence of the salad bar, vegetarian section, and the infrequent times where the international section is vegetarian friendly. This does not equate, however, to a multitude of options for vegetarians. While there is food for vegetarians to eat every day, that does not mean that many want to eat the same “Crispy Tofu” dish for the third time this week.
There has been a distinct lack of variety in the options that I, and many other vegetarians, have to eat on campus. For example, during the lunch cycle of the Great Room’s new schedule, the sushi bar has, seemingly, been reoccurring the most out of any other dish. While there are various options for the meat-eaters, such as the “Baltimore Roll” or the “Smoked Salmon Roll”, there has consistently been the same roll for vegetarians every time the sushi bar is used. Many dishes for the vegetarian line reoccur such as the “Crispy Tofu” or the meat-less chorizo with peppers. While I find these dishes to be good in their own right, having them three times a week does not make them any better.
The repetition of many of the vegetarian options in the Great Room leads to vegetarians, such as myself, to feel as though “vegetarian” means steamed vegetables or rice to many of those who decide what is to be cooked. While beans are very nutritious, they have made an appearance twelve times throughout the Great Room, especially in the vegetarian section, on the days of November 11 through the 15. In the same week, potatoes were served nine times and vegetarian rice dishes were served thirteen times. Many other dishes served in the vegetarian section are some combination of vegetables either steamed with no type of seasoning or stewed together.
This lack of variety has made some vegetarians, such as myself, go to different sources for food on campus. In the Pub there are seven vegetarian options and only one vegan option. These options include a salad and a hummus platter, which are available the Great Room. At the Grab-and-Go there are two “main” options for the vegetarians which are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or the hummus sandwich.
There are various ways to incorporate meatless options. During Meatless Mondays one fact was clear, there was a variety in the choices for those who went to Great Room. This demonstration of meatless variety last year would lead one to assume that it would be possible for those who decided the menu for the Great Room to put some, if not all, of the dishes used then into the rotation for the vegetarian section. Another option to increase the amount of vegetarian friendly options would be to switch out the pizza section for a pasta bar, like the one that usually appears around once a week. There are many vegetarian options that could come from having the pasta bar as a constant presence in the Great Room. This change also would allow those who eat meat to enjoy the pasta bar more often. In my experience, the pasta bar has been a popular option for almost every person in the Great Room, much more than the pizza bar.
As for the Grab-and-Go, the menu already had vegetarian options such as a mozzarella and tomato sandwich on their menu at the beginning of the year. To implement these options would greatly increase the variety there. The Pub has made more progress on this front in that they have added new vegetarian options recently to the menu: “Tacos Non Carne” and the “Spicy Black Bean Burger.” I would encourage the Pub to keep increasing the amount of meat free options on their menu.
Many of us would acknowledge that Bon Appetit is fully capable of providing more vegetarian options in the Great Room and elsewhere, I just feel like Bon Appetit is not living up to what it is capable of.