Written by Aeryn McMurtry
RC prides itself on keeping an inclusive and healthy menu for students with various food allergies or personal diet habits. As a student who does not have any of these restrictions, my day to day eating in Commons or Cavern is easy and reliable; I know that they will always have something that I can eat, and if any of the entrees don’t satisfy me, the alternative options (pizza and pasta bar, sandwich station, salad bar etc.) are available for me.
Because I have no sort of restrictions, I decided to see how hard it would be to restrict myself and not eat any sort of meat or meat-included dish for a week.
Overall, the week wasn’t as hard as I expected it to be. As I said before, Commons usually has an alternative for people who don’t eat the main dish. On tendies day, for example, I had the Morningstar chicken nuggets. On Thursday when the special item was a Ramen noodle bowl, they had an option that was vegetables instead of pork served in vegetable broth instead of meat stock. The macaroni bake came in both meat and veggie form. All of these were well and good, thought I did notice that items like the Superfoods salad and the Whole Wheat Pasta Pomodoro toss were only served at lunch. My only comment is that these items come irregularly to lunch and can’t be counted on to always be there, much like the ever popular veggie lo mein and smoothie weeks.
The biggest issue I had with this experiment was with Cavern. I have a late night class twice a week and tend to go to Cavern after that for dinner, and both times I went, I was unsatisfied with the vegetarian options. I went on Monday night and they were out of the large salads. I was offered two side salads to make up for it, but decided against those in favor of the two Uncrustables sandwiches that count as an entree. I went to Cavern two other times that week, and got a hummus and pretzels cup as my entree both times. The problem with that is you only get one hummus cup and two sides. I wasn’t nearly full by the time I had finished my meal. It felt more like snacking than eating a full healthy meal. Overall, I was unimpressed with the options available at Cavern for vegetarians. They do have a veggie wrap, but you can’t customize it they same way you can a regular wrap.
The most useful part of this experiment was the buffet style that Commons uses to serve food. Being able to pick what I didn’t want made assembling a meatless but healthy plate much easier. One example of the helpfulness of this is with Chicken Alfredo day. Because all of the different parts are separated, it was easy to get a plate of alfredo without having to pick around the chicken.
Experienced vegetarians might be able to find more tricks and create good meals that work for them using RCs dining options, but coming in as a newbie, this experience was more challenging than I thought it would be. My advice to others thinking about switching up is to take the time to plan out meals by looking at the Commons menu, and to get ready to eat a lot of the same thing.