S.U.B. lacks options for vegans and vegetarians
by MELANIE SCHAFFER
The hot topic on campus at the beginning of the semester was the new Student Union Building (S.U.B.) being built and people are still talking about it. Unfortunately, many of the remarks are less than positive.
Many Puget Sound students are disgruntled with its poor design which leads to less maneuverability, especially during busy hours. Others are frustrated by the amount of time it takes to get a sandwich, regardless of which side of the Deli station they choose.
However, the most salient complaint has to do with the extremely limited options for vegans and vegetarians. Returning students don’t need a reminder of the days when the S.U.B. had an entire station devoted to vegan/vegetarian options.
We all took for granted the Wild Rice and Craisin Pilaf-Stuffed Acorn Squash and the Mongolian “Beef.” Sadly these, along with the station itself, disappeared when the new dining hall was built.
It is true that, although both of these dishes are sorely missed, vegans and vegetarians can live without them. The problem, however, lies not in their nostalgia for squash, but in the fact that the promise made to these students at the end of last year was not kept.
Toward the end of last semester, word got out that the new dining facilities wouldn’t include the beloved Veggie Station, and animal lovers across campus were outraged.
However, they quieted down once they were told that food they could eat would be available not just at one station, but every station every day. Dining and Conference Services (DCS) has kept to their word, sort of.
Yes, there are non-meat options at every station if you’re looking for rice and vegetables which can be found in abundance at the Chef’s Table, the new Allergy Station and the Asian Station.
Yet even these are not always veggie-friendly, as sometimes the mashed potatoes will include bacon bits, because why not? If you want protein, your choices will most likely be various forms of tofu, but only sometimes.
“I know beggers can’t be choosers, but it’s really sad to see our cafeteria go from being one of the most vegetarian and vegan friendly college cafeterias to feeling like we’re an afterthought,” senior and vegan Dot Gasner said.
The reference to Puget Sound being one of the most vegan and vegetarian friendly schools has to do with an article issued by the school’s website in 2006 titled, “UPS Nominated a Top Vegan Friendly Campus by peta2.” According to the article, a representative of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals organization (PETA) said, “Puget Sound deserves an ‘A’ for meeting its students’ growing hunger for delicious vegan and vegetarian meals.” After a glowing review such as this, it’s hard to think what grade Puget Sound would receive just eight years later.
Now, many people can be seen wandering about the dining area for a few minutes before leaving empty-handed. When asked to explain this strange phenomenon, vegetarian and sophomore student Noah Lumbantobing said, “I find myself at a loss of what to eat sometimes and just leave and make my own food or go off campus.”
Going off campus to find meals is certainly an inconvenience for many students, especially since they pay out of pocket off campus while their prepaid on-campus meal plan is left untouched.
Gasner has even more problems finding adequate meals which suit her vegan diet. Gasner described a typical meal as “a sandwich with toasted french bread, if they have it, Field Roast, if they have it, with avocado and other veggies.” French bread is one of the only vegan breads offered in the S.U.B. and is a popular choice so it runs out quickly. Field Roast, a typical meat substitute and the only vegan source of protein offered at the Deli Station also goes fast, leaving vegan students with an even more limited selection.
The replacement for the old Veggie Station in the new dining hall is the Allergy Friendly Station, which is catered toward those who have allergies to gluten, nuts and dairy. This addition is welcomed by many students on campus, regardless of whether they suffer from these allergies.
The consensus on campus is that the Allergy Station has the best food by far. Since it is already so restrictive in its menu, however, vegans and vegetarians have a hard time finding anything to eat other than vegetables.
The project of redesigning the S.U.B. is one on which the school spent a great deal of money and effort, which is why many students are hesitant to make formal complaints.
Yet when a significant portion of students cannot find the balanced, nutritious and animal-free meals they need, this problem becomes one which needs to be addressed.
Although it would be ideal, students recognize that it may not be possible to bring back the Veggie Station due to available room in both the dining hall and the budget.
Instead, vegan and vegetarian students on campus plead that DCS makes good on the promise made this past Spring, and starts offering realistic vegan and vegetarian meal options at every station every day.