The state of campus veggies

| Scene Special Features Editor
Freshman Melanie Driscoll contemplates the vegetarian options at Bear’s Bakery & Grill. While she is not actually a vegetarian, Driscoll said she enjoys the shorter lines for vegetarian food. (Kim Jones | Student Life)

Freshman Melanie Driscoll contemplates the vegetarian options at Bear’s Bakery & Grill. While she is not actually a vegetarian, Driscoll said she enjoys the shorter lines for vegetarian food. (Kim Jones | Student Life)

Whether you’re undergoing some stress relief with a vat of ice cream, overfeeding yourself for that biology test or just sharing some chips with friends, food, we can agree, is key to the college experience. People appreciate having the food that they like and want at their disposal.

The question is—does Washington University help make this possible for all of its students? Many students at Wash. U. have specific dietary guidelines due to religious beliefs, personal ideals or health requirements. The school, however, seems to be doing a great job catering to this unique population. Especially with the new dining center and menus on campus, vegetarians have many more options.

About being a vegetarian, junior Harry Alper said, “Wash. U. is a great place to try it.”

With pastas, falafel and tofu as near regulars at campus eateries—as well as soy chicken in burrito lines and the occasional vegetable chili—Wash. U. offers a solid vegetarian selection. The service itself received good marks, and Alper’s opinion, in particular, is that the vegetarian station has the “friendliest staffers around.”

“I think the staff at Wash. U. is really helpful, really accommodating,” junior Lucy Gellman said. “They watch out for the needs of every student.”

Sophomore Vaidehi Ambai said the employees seem “understanding of [a vegetarian’s] decision.”

The Danforth University Center seems to be the hotspot for many vegetarians on campus.

“There’s a good variety, black bean burgers at the grill, taco salads,” Ambai said. “You can get the pizzas. The Asian line always has a vegetarian option.”

Cole slaw is one of the many vegetarian options at Bear’s Bakery and Grill in South 40 House. Among the other vegetarian options on campus are falafel, black bean burgers, pastas and tofu. (Kim Jones | Student Life)

Cole slaw is one of the many vegetarian options at Bear’s Bakery and Grill in South 40 House. Among the other vegetarian options on campus are falafel, black bean burgers, pastas and tofu. (Kim Jones | Student Life)

The new South 40 dining options, according to Ambai, are more of a mixed bag. The different opening and closing hours of the South 40’s eating stations felt like a downgrade from Bear’s Den near-24-hour service, and the lack of added quesadilla ingredients put a damper on one of Ambai’s favorite dishes.

Hopefully, this is only a lapse in what is otherwise a respectable service. Bon Appétit has incorporated measures that suggest it generally understands the wishes of its vegetarian customers. In the case of the new dining options, this means having a separate grill and fryer altogether to avoid cooking meat and vegetables in the same areas. Color-coding for spatulas and other cooking utensils in the DUC also help to reduce these dangers.

Furthermore, Bon Appétit is striving to make its vegetarian options more mainstream. The plan, according to Nadeem Siddiqui, resident district manager for Bon Appétit, is to maximize the flavor and texture of the dishes. Well-seasoned, delicious vegetarian options are attractive not just to vegetarians themselves but also to a considerable part of the student body.

“I know how hard it can be when you go out to find something that isn’t a plate of steamed vegetables,” Executive Chef Justin Keimon said. The chef has incorporated Moroccan spices, Thai pineapple tofu and Italian influences alternatively in his vegetarian dishes. While the actual impact of these new meals remains a mystery, the chef did explain that the popularity of veggie dishes is considerable and that “the amount of vegetarian [food] that we’re selling [in] the DUC is amazing.”

What is good for the body is, hopefully, now popular and good for the taste buds as well. And it seems this leaves Wash. U. closer to allowing all of its students their personal brands of happy eating.

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