Opinion: SIU’s dining halls don’t meet vegetarian or vegan needs

By Keaton Yates, Staff Reporter

In the dining halls, vegans and vegetarians have one line of options that don’t meet their nutrition needs and there is no guarantee it’s vegan.

Housing needs to be held accountable and take care of the students who are forced to live on this campus and eat at the dining halls. 

There are six basic nutrients the body needs: protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. 

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Chloe Schobert | @chloscho_art2020

Protein is perhaps the most commonly misunderstood. It is very important to the human body but you don’t just get it from meat and dairy products. White meats, such as fish and poultry, are where most meat-based protein comes from.

Other good sources of protein are seeds and nuts, soy products, legumes and beans and high protein grains such as quinoa, whole wheat pasta, wild rice, couscous and oatmeal.

The next nutrient is carbohydrates. Those include your breads, cereals, pasta, potatoes, vegetables and fruits. Don’t let diet culture fool you; carbohydrates are not bad for your body if done correctly, which the school does well. We have plenty of carbohydrates in the dining halls.

Fats are also misunderstood and don’t need to be avoided. Saturated animal-based fats should be consumed moderately; red meats and dairy contain these. Healthy sources of fats are in vegetable oils, nuts and fish.

Vitamins are found in fruits and vegetables and there are 13 vitamins the body needs. Minerals depend on the body but those are also found in fruits, vegetables and white meat.

Many of the vegan options at the dining halls do not contain all of the nutrients needed to live a healthy vegan lifestyle.

Of course there’s the salad bar and Trueblood’s Grill everyday but vegetarians and vegans aren’t rabbits. They’re people who have wants and needs.

In a school week, lentils and rice is offered about three times a week while people who are able to eat meat and dairy products are offered something new every single day.

The university can say they offer vegan options but hardly any of the meals have the nutrients vegans need. This can lead to malnutrition and weight loss. 

Not only is there not enough options but there’s cross contamination. 

At the burger bar, the tongs for french fries are regularly put into the fried chicken and sometimes student workers at Trueblood’s Grill will put vegetarian bowls on the meat grill.

Often when student workers are asked what is in the vegan or vegetarian dishes they are unaware and won’t ask their supervisors.

This is no fault of the dining hall staff. It’s a lack of education and training of student workers. The school needs to be held accountable to teaching, because students are required to live on campus for the first year and some upperclassmen may not have any other option. It is the university’s responsibility to take care of these students.

The staff is known to take recipes but they should do their part and do more research on what students with dietary restrictions need to be healthy.

Staff reporter Keaton Yates can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @keatsians.

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