When I was 16 years old, I made the decision to become a vegetarian; at 20 years old today, I am still a faithful vegetarian. I am entering my third year at West Chester University, and when I moved back into the dorms, I expected to return to my – although sometimes unappealing – vegetarian option at Lawrence Dining Hall.I was sorely mistaken. Why? Because Lawrence Dining Hall has removed the vegetarian section. Yes, you read right. The vegetarian section is gone.
When I asked the staff where it went, the answer I received was that it was removed and replaced with the “Lindsay’s Garden” option. Right.
So I strolled on over there to see what it was all about. I couldn’t really see my options, because the line was so long, but I did notice at the bottom of the sign it read, “Chicken optional.” There’s a big problem with this so-called “new vegetarian section”: a vegetarian diet does NOT include poultry.
Yes, I realize that the sign said “optional” when referring to the chicken, but not all vegetarians desire to have their food cooked near meat or in the same pan as meat. Furthermore, not everybody is confident enough to speak up – in front of a long line of their peers – and ask the cook to use a fresh pan, or to wash the pan they are using. Someone might feel even more uncomfortable with voicing this request since “Lindsay’s Garden” is located in the center of the dining hall, and nowhere near a sink, meaning the cook may refuse their request. If the vegetarian has a nice enough cook that decides to wash the pan, the cook will have to walk all the way across the dining hall to wash it, and the walk all the way back.
What remains is this: dozens of students at West Chester University campus now have no easily accessible place to eat.
I don’t know about you, but being a college student is pretty busy. I’m taking six classes, I’m heavily involved in extracurricular activities, I work, and more. My meals in Lawrence usually involve me walking in, seeing what is edible, grabbing something quick to eat, and leaving the dining hall about fifteen to twenty minutes later. I don’t have time to stand there and wait in line for my food. I need something that is easily accessible, such as what the vegetarian section used to be.
It is incredibly important for vegetarians to watch their diet to make sure they get enough protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and more. Without the vegetarian section, it will become harder for the vegetarians on campus to find foods that offer these nutrients. A diet without these nutrients can cause one to become seriously ill.
I have gone this far in this editorial and have yet to mention vegans. This is because I cannot even imagine what it must be like to be a vegan now on campus. Vegans do not eat meat or dairy products, so there are even less options for them to consume in Lawrence Dining Hall.
Excuses such as “Sykes Food Court” and “The Diner” do not count. “The Diner’s” food gives me headaches from how greasy and processed it is, and Sykes Food Court is expensive. Even though Lawrence Dining Hall does not have the best food, I can at least come up with something to eat.
On the Lawrence Dining Hall’s website, they have a whole section devoted to how to stay “fresh and healthy,” yet they cannot even provide it in their dining hall for their vegetarian students. Furthermore, they claim to have an “extensive meal selection;” however, this meal selection fails to cater to vegetarian students. That doesn’t sound too extensive to me, since most restaurants today have changed their menus to cater to vegetarians. If a restaurant can do it, why can’t Lawrence Dining Hall?
What makes me most furious is how they failed to notify the students and faculty of such a huge change – perhaps they knew what sort of an uproar this would cause. They can notify us for every single survey, though. Apparently my opinions that they treasure so dearly, as promised in every e-mail when asking me to fill out a survey, are actually worth nothing, because I’ve been complaining for the past two years that I want more vegetarian options, and they respond by just taking away the entire section.
I do not want to eat salad, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pizza, and pasta every single day. I am not paying nearly $1,200 a semester to eat that. Vegetarians have a plethora of options to eat: hummus, veggie burgers, veggie hot dogs, eggs, cheese, meatless quiche, beans, tofu, soy products, and more. Why don’t you start to provide these?
Lawrence Dining Hall staff, return the vegetarian section for myself and the dozens of other vegetarian and vegan students on campus immediately. This isn’t an option – we absolutely need these sections to exist in order to maintain healthy lives. I am appalled and furious at your lack of concern for your vegetarian students’ needs.
Jenn Halligan is a junior at West Chester University majoring in Secondary English Education. She can be reached at jh653435@wcupa.