It takes a lot more than a minuscule cookie plate marked ‘vegan’ in the dessert section of Clinton Dining Hall to meet campus vegan and vegetarian needs.
Vegetarians, vegans and non-meat eaters alike are often the last people to cross a dietitian’s mind; Plattsburgh State is no different. To its credit, PSU has made an effort to accommodate veganism and vegetarianism within some dining venues such as Clinton and The Sundowner.
A student can access vegan and gluten-free options at Clinton through a small station in the corner and the grill in addition to vegan desserts indicated with a cute little green flag.
At times, workers will get to know students and their routines. They’re trained and equipped to make vegan pizza, chicken sandwiches and other vegan foods if asked to. Several will prepare a special plate hours before said student arrives. Those pre-prepared vegan meatballs are delicious.
It’s not enough though.
These options aren’t enough for the vegan population at this college. An article by College Pulse — a college campus poll platform that conducted a survey of 2,001 college students — said 14 % of college students were vegan, vegetarian or followed other non-meat eating practices, which is a little more than a 10th. That population has a chance of expanding to 20%, 25% or 50%; who knows right? It’s nice that workers are trained to prepare vegan meals on the spot, but it takes a while. Take a vegan chicken sandwich for example. A worker must steam a patty for 12 minutes before it can be served. A vegan pizza? One has to spend about 10 minutes fetching the vegan ingredients for it.
“A pro would be they have [vegan options] at all,” PSU student Rebecca Klein said. “A con would be they’re not that great.”
Klein acknowledges that PSU has “stepped its game up” in terms of being mindful of veganism. However, the college could be better. She said listing the full ingredients of food would be an improvement for dining altogether. Klein doesn’t eat pork for personal reasons and dislikes asking a staff member for ingredients information because the process is tedious. If she does ask, the staff member goes to the back because he or she is usually unsure. Klein is then left waiting and hungry, just for the inevitable “this item contains pork” response.
A student can often tell what an item contains by the name, smell and appearance, but one can never be too sure. Workers will definitely accommodate student inquiries, but will do so by awkwardly reading off the label. The problem is, they have no idea what they’re reading though. It’s not their fault however.
The options here should be expanded tremendously. Why not introduce a vegan food truck like the Meals on Wheels truck? Why not create a vegan section in Campus Express. It would be overpriced like everything else in there, but at least that would be an option. PSU made the first few steps of creating an inclusive dining service, but it should keep walking until it can run.
Email Mataeo Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org