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Plant Power For All

by Alyssa Smolen

It is no secret that people should eat fruits and vegetables, but it can be difficult while attending college.

Almost every building at Montclair State University has a vending machine with cheesy snacks or a fast-food stop, like California Tortilla or Panda Express. If you are not seeking out vegetables because of a specific diet, it can be a challenge to find plant-based choices around dining halls.

In the past, students have mentioned to me that they wished that Montclair State had healthier options available in the dining halls. These were students that wanted to eat healthy without changing their regular diets. I would tell them that they just had to look carefully at the different sections in Sam’s Place or Freeman Hall’s dining hall.

For most students, spending the time to find vegetables throughout the french fries or burgers did not help them refrain from choosing something less healthy, as the fried foods were tempting.

However, Montclair State has introduced a new section called Rooted at Sam’s Place with more vegan and vegetarian options. This move toward more plant-based choices not only benefits those who refrain from eating animal products but the rest of the students at the university.

By having more plant-based options, Montclair State allows students who do not follow a vegan or vegetarian diet to have more plant choices when it comes to their meals. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into one’s diet provides benefits, even if one still consumes meat and dairy.

According to a study conducted by Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, those who consumed a diet high in plant-based protein to animal-based protein had a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease later in their life.

Another study conducted by the University of Ohio suggests that swapping one serving of meat a day for a plant-based choice, like nuts, can reduce the risk of an early death by 17 percent.

Reducing meat consumption can appear daunting if options for replacements are not present. However, Rooted makes it easy for Montclair State students to find alternative choices.

Before Sam’s Place introduced this new section, there were a few places that students could clearly find fruits and vegetables. The salad bar was a staple for adding a bit of lettuce and a few carrots to one’s plate. A student may have only gone to the salad bar because they knew it was there and would be able to find vegetables.

There were other locations around Sam’s Place to find plant-based choices, but one may only look there and read the label if they were following a strictly vegan or vegetarian diet.

As someone who follows a plant-based diet, I try not to push my opinions pertaining to meat on others but rather encourage them to eat more plants. Rooted is the perfect way to recommend healthy choices to students at dining halls. I feel confident telling students that there is a variety of plant options to choose from to incorporate into their regular diets when they are seeking out fruits and vegetables.

Now, with the clearly marked plant-based station, students who follow all sorts of diets have access to more plant-based options without having to search for it.

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