Dining halls should be more ‘livable’ for vegetarians/vegans

ASU dining halls have made some progress with meat-free options, but more could be done

Being on a meal plan is sometimes difficult. Being on a meal plan as a vegan is always difficult. 

Many college dining halls have taken great steps toward more meat-free options, but students should use their voice if they feel more could be done. 

See CounterpointASU dining services should encourage students to explore the local food scene.

Having lived in Taylor Place for two years, it was a constant cry among students. It’s easy to complain, but having experienced some dining halls across the Western states, many are downright awful. Aramark also makes attempts at garnering student feedback to make improvements.

ASU's downtown dining hall probably ranks second of the 11 I’ve been to across Western states. Though in comparison to others, student feedback on Aramark has trended on the negative side. 

J.j. Williamson, a recent family and human development graduate, lived at Taylor Place for two years, with a meal plan each year.

“I mean it’s average at best," Williamson said. "I wouldn’t ever choose to have it again.” 

Even with student complaints, Aramark has made great strides on ASU's downtown campus in the last two years to be more accessible to vegetarian diets. Beginning with the installation of the Daily Root, a very popular meal station among vegan students, and the addition of black bean burgers, these have made the meal plan far more livable. Additionally in the past year, frozen vegan meals have also been added in the Taylor Market Place to add options.

Moves such as this would make economic sense as well. Young Americans are increasingly becoming vegetarian, or at least reducing their meat intake. A recent Pew study has shown that while five percent of those ages 50-64 are vegetarian or vegan, the number among those 18-24 is 12 percent.

It’s also easy. It just requires us to view meat differently.

Instead of automatically adding meat to a meal, it should be treated like any other topping.. Let’s not mix meat into a meal unless it’s completely necessary. That could present meals much more suitable to students of different preferences.

It’s important to note that while it’s easy to complain, Aramark does make themselves available monthly (downtown at least), and even for special meetings to take suggestions at their food advisory board hearings. If you are genuinely upset about your food options in the dining hall, go in and see what can be done. 

My sophomore year we were able to win back the veggie burger, a huge gain for vegetarian students. That happened because they sat down with us, and we were organized. It doesn’t require being ‘elected,’ or having ‘credentials.’ 

It just requires being organized. Due to our ability to organize in years past, we won more for vegetarian students. As the next generation of students start classes in the fall, Aramark should take into consideration the changing demographics. Students should also feel free to let them know if they feel their progress is inadequate.

Reach the columnist at jarwood@asu.edu or follow @jimsthebeast on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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