BY KANDACE GALLANT
When you think of what to have for lunch, you’re probably imagining a nice, big, fat, juicy burger, or perhaps just a ham and Swiss sandwich. But not everyone includes these types of meals into their diet.
For the past few years, more people have switched over to being vegetarian or vegan. Even big name celebrities and professional athletes are promoting veganism such as Venus Williams, Mike Tyson, Ellen Degeneres, Scarlett Johansson and Samual L. Jackson, just to name a few.
What’s the difference between vegetarian and vegan? Vegetarians, though they do not eat meat, still include dairy into their diet. Vegans, however, do not eat any animal byproducts.
A common question people who are vegan are asked is, “Where do you get your protein from?” Any professional athlete who is vegan will tell you he gets his protein from pretty much anything. Soy products like tofu and tempeh are packed with protein, as well as grains like quinoa, brown rice and oatmeal and different kinds of nuts.
All these things are high in calcium and vitamins too.
But are foods like this being offered in the cafeteria at Conestoga College for students who have different dietary needs? Are they providing an equal amount of nutrition for everyone? Many students have the option of walking into the cafeteria and being able to grab a hamburger, poutine and salad. But even those salads are not vegan friendly as many of the dressings include animal products like milk or honey. Surprisingly, even a bag of chips may include dairy products.
The student body was asked for their opinions as well as what they thought the cafeteria should offer.
Kyle MacDonald, a first-year student in fitness and health promotion, said vegetarians definitely have an advantage over vegans when it comes to food in the cafeteria. “There are things being offered like a vegetarian omelet, but vegans can’t have that.” He added it is definitely a lot harder for vegans to find food but the cafeteria shouldn’t feel obligated to offer them items, since they are in the minority.
Another student said she actually tried both diets.
“I tried being vegetarian for a couple weeks and vegan for a few days,” said Heather Caron, a first-year bachelor of business administration student. “It was hard to even find bread that was made without eggs or cheese, or buying a simple microwave meal that didn’t have chicken in it. There would be about three options to choose from.”
When asked if the cafeteria should offer different fare for students, she said definitely, particularly more vegan options and maybe different salads that do not have meat in them.
As the vegetarian and vegan population grows, so are restaurants and their menus. Many are either offering options for specific diets, or there are some that are just dedicated to vegan foods. Some have even received a top rating on TripAdvisor, a site that rates the top hotels, restaurants, etc., in various cities.
For local vegan restaurant options in Waterloo Region, visit www.happycow.net/north_america/canada/ontario/kitchener_waterloo/