Veganism is on the rise worldwide, and some college campuses are struggling to keep up. Montclair State University is no exception. Though there are a variety of food choices available for meat eaters, finding satisfying vegan options can be very challenging.
Let’s start with Au Bon Pain — a quick and central lunch option, with plenty of room to sit, eat and study. The selection seems broad enough. The pastry case is stacked with croissants, muffins and cookies. There are steaming pots of soup and mac and cheese available, and the staff serves up warm sandwiches made to order. Additionally, there is a cold food section, where customers can grab a salad, yogurt or a wrap. It all seems like a foodie’s dream come true, but it can be a vegan’s nightmare.
While beautifully displayed, all of the pastries at Au Bon Pain contain butter, eggs or both. The handful of vegetarian sandwiches available have cheese, and often the soups are not vegan. The salads are topped with chicken and cheese, the yogurt is dairy-based and the only vegan wrap offered is usually soggy by lunch time. This leaves vegans with a bagel, peanut butter, jelly, a greasy veggie burger and a soggy vegan wrap. Hardly appetizing.
The trend continues for the other dining locations on campus that leave very few vegan options to choose from, most of which lack protein. A cucumber roll might be delicious, but it will not satisfy a hungry student through two classes.
College campuses across the U.S. are making strong choices and actively providing a more pleasant dining experience for vegan students. For example, the University of South Florida offers vegan chicken patties and three protein-rich vegan burritos that are each made to order. Ohio University serves up vegan chili. University of Colorado Boulder’s dining hall offers over 50 vegan meals daily, which can all be followed up with a vegan chocolate chip cookie.
The options for vegans are plentiful and often inexpensive to make. Whether students are vegan or not, vegan meals can be a healthier and more satisfying option for students on campus. With many other colleges adding alternative options to their menus, the stage is set for Montclair State to take the steps necessary to provide balanced vegan meals to students.