By Brenna Everdale
Besides at Wrapz in the Academic Forum and the ‘Home’ station in the Southside Cafe, trying to find vegetarian food around campus can be incredibly frustrating, unless of course you don’t mind eating a whole lot of cheese and bread (ex. cheese pizza, cheese quesadillas and grilled cheese), and it’s nearly impossible to find vegan food.
This is very unfair to vegetarians and vegans on campus. In the last issue of The Keystone there was an article on non-GMO month that referenced local alternatives to the food available on campus. If the university does not make major changes to accommodate vegetarians and vegans, perhaps choosing not to buy a meal plan is the best option not only for those of us who don’t wish to consume genetically modified foods, but also those of us who wish to maintain a diet that does not consist primarily of meat and dairy products.
Unfortunately, the rule that all students living in the residence halls (with the exceptions of Golden Bear Village Apartments, Honors Building, and efficiency apartments in Dixon Hall) must purchase a meal plan prevents most of these students from voting with their wallets and meeting their dietary needs.
But let’s be clear: this is not something that only affects vegetarians and vegans. I realize there are options for these students, and I realize there are resources available to help make finding meatless and vegan foods easier. But if you aren’t trying really hard, you’re not going to find these foods. A lot of the time, such as at the pizza places in the food courts, you have to specially request meatless or cheeseless foods and wait for them to be made. The average student will instead opt for a slice of pepperoni pizza or something of the sort.
Reducing meat consumption reduces animal cruelty, the risk of heart disease and also destruction of the environment. That’s right: switching to a meat-free diet is actually the single most effective way for the average person to help the environment. Meat production is responsible for incredible levels of pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and depletion of natural resources. For example, according to the Water Education Foundation, it takes 2,464 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef in California. Yes, one pound. In this way, adding more easily accessible vegetarian options around campus is in literally everyone’s best interest, not just vegetarians and vegans.
For a university that does so much to reduce energy consumption, it’s a little ironic that the administration fails to encourage plant-based diets. To me this says that the university is more concerned with saving money than actually making a difference; they don’t spend the money to produce the meat, so it’s not their problem. It’s kind of like if your dad tells you to turn the lights off when you leave the room and then goes and burns a barrel of trash in the backyard.