At the beginning of the Spring 2019 semester, the Marist College Dining Hall added five new vegetarian and vegan initiatives. From Meatless Mondays to vegan smoothies served on “Thirsty Thursdays” the options are tasty and environmentally-friendly.
“There were many requests for a greater vegetarian and vegan presence on our menus, and when students talk, we listen,” said Celeste Gigliotti, Sodexo’s marketing intern.
A vegetarian diet means that someone doesn’t eat meat for moral, religious, or health reasons. Whereas, someone who is a vegan doesn’t use or consume any type of animal product. So, a vegan can’t eat cheese or eggs, whereas most vegetarians do.
“I eat vegan because I believe every life is valuable and I can easily survive without killing animals and the environment,” Sara Craft, a dedicated vegan said. “Being a vegan saves 400,000 gallons of water and 365 animals per person, per year. Growing up with animals I realized that their life is just as valuable as mine and I shouldn’t make another species suffer.”
Livestock agriculture generates more greenhouse gases than cars and trucks combined. That is half of all man-made carbon emissions. Eating a plant-based diet can reduce people’s environmental footprint. This reason, along with many other ethical and economical ones, has converted over 16 million Americans to go vegan or vegetarian. The student feedback from the Fall 2018 Dining Satisfaction Survey reflected that trend. There was an immense level of concern and passion for having more vegetarian and vegan entrees served.
“It’s beneficial to the environment to cut back your meat consumption. The economic benefits lead to when people support local or organic food providers, by frequenting local farmers’ markets or shopping organically,” Gigliotti said. On top of that, “studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans often have lower body mass indexes [BMI’s] than those of meat eaters and they are at a lesser risk for all cancers.”
Sodexo’s addition of Meatless Mondays, vegan smoothie Thursdays, and an avocado toast bar on Friday mornings are just a few of the ways the Dining Hall is getting students interested in eating more veggies. They have even started serving cauliflower wings in North End dining—Millennials favorite vegan trend this year. A twist on traditional chicken wings with fried cauliflower dipped in buffalo sauce instead.
“I love trying all the vegan food options because most of them are new to me. I especially love Meatless Monday,” said Candice Rivera, student supervisor at the Dining Hall. “It is important that people know their options and are able to eat the foods that their diet contains.”
In addition, the Dining Hall’s Simply Servings station features unique side dishes that are vegan. This week they were serving up vegetable risotto and spinach sautéed with caramelized shallots. In addition, they always offer vegan and vegetarian options during special events. For example, this Valentine’s Day they are offering a full three-course meal, accommodating meat-lovers, lobster enthusiasts, and veggie loyal’s.
“The zucchini noodles, referred to as “zoodles,” were recently featured at Chef’s Table and have been a crowd favorite,” Kate Cole, Sodexo marketing coordinator said. “These options are a collaborative effort between the culinary team and our new on-campus dietitian, Marie Murphy. She received her master’s degree in Nutrition from Hunter College.” Also, “here at Marist, we serve the Beyond Burger in the dining hall on weekends, sister to the impossible burger. These plant-based burgers are critically acclaimed for looking, tasting, and satisfying like beef, as their slogan says.”
If you want to learn more about these initiatives and new meals on campus, follow @MaristEats on Instagram or visit maristdining.com.