Want meatless meals? There’s a tofu for you

Brianne Fleming, Copy Editor

Although many UPJ students might enjoy grabbing a burger or chicken sandwich between classes, vegetarians can find it a little harder to satisfy their hunger on campus.

However, campus dining services providers have come a long way when it comes to vegetarianism.

Student Government Representative and Food Committee member Carrie Law said she was a vegetarian for a little over six months last year, due to a gluten-free diet recommendation from her doctor.

“I must say that it was a bit more difficult than I originally anticipated,” Law said, adding that, thankfully, a friend tried the diet change along with her.

Law said she decided to incorporate meat back into her diet in mid-May when she found out she’d be studying abroad in Europe over the summer.

“I didn’t want to miss out on good food or get sick with the diet change while living overseas,” she said. “But, if I had not studied abroad over the summer, I would probably still be a vegetarian today.”

Law said the UPJ Food Committee often discusses gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan meal options for students.

“We want to make sure that all students are having their dietary needs met, and we are always open to new suggestions and ideas,” she said.

Law said Sodexo cooks offer a vegetarian option for every meal.

“There is also the option of working with them on a more personal level so that they can cater to any specific needs.”

Law said she has seen improvement this year in terms of Sodexo managers’ efforts to fulfill vegetarian and vegan needs.

“This year, I think that Sodexo is doing a better job at recognizing the difference between vegetarians and vegans,” she said.

Vegetarians cut meat, fish and poultry out of their diets. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products or any animal bi-products.

“I think they could market vegetarian options more clearly and maybe ask for input from vegetarians and vegans on campus,” she said. “They could also promote their willingness to work with individual students with specific dietary restrictions.”

Sodexo Catering Director Derek Krajc said the Varsity Café, in the Living/Learning Center, offers multiple options on their menu for non-meat eaters.

“Every day, we offer stir fry, our salad bar and a meatless hot entrée,” Krajc said. “We also have a meatless pizza.”

Krajc said the Varsity Café also offers vegetable trays with ranch dip or hummus as an appetizer, and certain meals can be cooked without meat.

“We have a lot of other options available,” he said, “and we’re definitely always open to suggestions.”

The Pitt-Johnstown Tuck Shop has meal choices for vegetarians. Grill 155 offers vegetarian burgers on it’s menu, and Subway offers veggie sandwiches. Brioche’s menu consists of a veggie baguette and the basic garden salad.

Pitt-Johnstown junior and pre-business major Chelsea Colby she said has been a vegetarian for a little over 10 years. She recently excluded fish from her diet and still includes only limited amounts of dairy.

“I feel vegetarian options on campus are so limited, so I cook most of my meals in my apartment,” Colby said. “When I do eat on campus, I usually get a 6 inch veggie sub or a salad from Subway.”

Colby said she used to get salads from Brioche as well, but found bacon in one of them one day, due to all the salads being mixed in the same bowl. However, she was pleased when she noticed they started offering soymilk in addition to regular milk.

Not only is Colby a healthy eater, but she said she also would like to aim toward becoming vegan.

“Since my diet is more strict than vegetarians I know, other vegetarian students may not find UPJ’s options to be as limited as I do,” Colby said. “It’s the students who are moving toward the vegan aspect of vegetarianism (or vegans themselves), who will most likely have a harder time finding options.”

Colby noticed that, last semester, the cafeteria began to offer a vegetarian option for every meal, and said this is an improvement from her freshman year at UPJ.

“Also, the salad bar included tofu as a topping,” she said. “It provided a good source of protein among the other carb-loaded and other vegetarian options.”