People at South Puget Sound Community College with specific dietary restrictions often have difficulty finding accommodations on campus, according to students interviewed. Those with vegetarian and vegan diets have limited options in the cafeteria, bookstore, and espresso stands.
At the beginning of this year I began transitioning from a vegetarian diet to a vegan diet. In recent months I have began spending more time on campus and I have found the lack of vegan options offered to students disappointing. I began looking further into vegan options and speaking with students with similar dietary persuasions.
SPSCC has both a culinary arts and baking program. The food that students make as part of their program is served to other students through the cafeteria. I believe this is a really great thing. Not only does this benefit many students, both in and out of the program, but it also reduces food waste, in that the food they create does not go straight into the trashcan.
The unfortunate and often frustrating thing is that they do not provide any vegan options, and only a few vegetarian options. Vegetarians choose not to eat meat and some even forgo gelatin or eggs. Vegans choose not to eat meat or any animal products, which includes milk, eggs, gelatin, and even honey.
Maintaining a vegan diet can be pretty easy, but you must have options. Many non-vegan people believe there isn’t anything left to eat if you take out meat and animal products, when really there are ample options for vegan meals. Things that grow naturally, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, are entirely vegan. Modern developments have also lead to many vegan substitutes for things such as butter, milk, and even cheese. Is there a vegan alternative for human meat? Because there should be :–)
The Clipper Cafe does provide a vegetarian black bean burger, but the buns are not vegan fucking buns, they are cooked on the same grill as animal products, and the same tools are often used to cook each item. Fries are also fried in oil that pieces of fish and chicken are also fried in. They frequently provide salads, however the salads typically have both cheese and chicken on top. Many vegetarians and vegans will not eat certain foods that have made contact with animal products.
In the cold cases there are sometimes hummus places, of which approximately two-thirds of each plate is actually vegan. The baking program also, on occasion, provides a vegan “Morning Glory” muffin. However, they are not provided in a very regulated pattern.
The bookstore and coffee stands do not have many vegan options either. Both sell certain fruit and/or nut bars, some of which are vegan. The bookstore also carries chips and nuts. The Espresso Mia stand in the Student Union Building carries soy milk. You can order any coffee drink and substitute any milk product with soy milk, free of charge.
For my first two quarters at SPSCC I was not on campus very long, meaning I did not have to eat on campus. I was here for my morning classes and either went home and ate or stopped for some lunch downtown. Spring quarter is much different.
Twice a week, I have class early in the morning, in the early afternoon, and again in the early evening. The time between classes is hardly enough time to go home and come back. Thus, I stay on campus for approximately 12 hours. I also recently started working for The Sounds. This has increased the number of days that I am on campus for extended periods of time.
The benefit of this is that I have plenty of time to do work. However, I usually have to accommodate two meals each day. I really enjoy being on campus, but I have found the lack of food options incredibly upsetting. I often find myself going long days without having much to eat.
Noah Lundquist is a fellow student who has found similar problems. Lundquist is a chosen vegan, though is sometimes less strict than others.
“I don’t really freak out at things with the whole ‘Made on equipment shared with milk and bees and beef jerky’ thing though,” he said.
Many products are made in factories that also process foods such as milk, fish, nuts, and so on. Thus meaning that certain products that are assumed vegan may contain traces of non-vegan elements. Each person who is vegan varies in their choices, especially this one. Similar to Lundquist many vegans do not pay much attention to these trace elements, though many do.
Lundquist often spends a lot of time on campus. Some days he stays for a few hours, but on other days, he may be there for up to 8-10 hours. This usually requires him to eat on campus.
“Essentially, I’m limited to black bean burgers on a bagel, fruit when it doesn’t look iffy, vegan Morning Glory muffins, Mate and other teas, and Odwalla Bars,” he said.
Lundquist is working on waking up earlier to make food to bring to campus or eat before he goes. However, like many other students, he finds this somewhat difficult.
Cassandra Johnson is also a student with similar dietary restrictions. Johnson is strongly allergic to both cow’s milk and goat’s milk products.
“I may not go into anaphylactic shock when I accidentally eat an onion ring with whey powder in its seasoning mix, but I will be tired, itchy, congested, and might even get an ear infection at the end of the week,” she said.
In addition, Johnson usually stays away from meat that isn’t free-range and hormone free. However, she does often eat fish. Aside from a mostly pescetarian diet, Johnson takes a somewhat “freegan” ethic.
In general, being freegan is a choice to seek alternative strategies for consuming products. Most often freegans can be found “dumpster diving”, which is a form of “waste reclamation” wherein people search through residential and/or commercial waste bins for unspoiled food. If freegans purchase food, it is typically vegan.
Though Johnson does not go dumpster diving or identify with a strictly freegan lifestyle, she does work towards lessening her consumption as well as not letting things be thrown away unnecessarily.
“If it is there and going to waste, and has no dairy content, I should honor a dead animal by not letting its slaughter be in vain,” said Johnson.
Often she tries to bring breakfast or pre-made foods such as soup, oats, or rice and veggies. When she is unable to bring food to campus Johnson usually goes for the black bean burger on a bagel, although she misses the “golden age” when she could add guacamole from the cold case.
Similar to Lundquist, Johnson is often on campus for long days. In addition to her classes, she works as art curator in the Diversity and Equity Center, and this month is revisiting her time at The Sounds as a contributing reporter.
The cafeteria has been closing earlier than it once did. When it used to be open until seven p.m., it is now often found closed between two and three p.m. This can be very problematic for students who are on campus for long hours, such as Johnson.
Salmon jerky and dried nuts from the bookstore have helped her in after-hour emergencies, she said. But that isn’t quite sufficient enough for a meal.
“For a lunch or dinner that really fits my needs after a busy day, I usually need to head home,” said Johnson.