March 27, 2023

When it’s lunch time, many students walk around the campus looking for the best food option. Even though pizza and poutine can sound mouth-watering to most people, some others can’t have any of it. Vegans and vegetarians often have trouble finding a meal on campus — and the same happens with international students looking for foods from the places they call home.

While vegetarians don’t eat any meat, vegans don’t consume anything that causes animal cruelty. That includes meats, dairy and eggs.

When people don’t include animal protein in their diet, they can have trouble finding affordable, convenient food around campus.

The food services offered at Conestoga College are managed by Chartwells.

“I believe there are very few options for vegetarians and even less for vegans,” said Ashley Ann, from the social service worker program at Conestoga. The vegetarian options also seem to be more costly. The vegan [options] generally are if you choose something close to a vegetarian and then ask to remove items but still pay the full price. Then you also need to request it be cooked on a cleaned grill or skipped entirely. This is where it becomes offensive or a hassle for someone like myself.”

“I have to go to Pita Pit and that’s quite a far walk and I have to wait a long time and there’s no quick fix like the On The Go stuff,” said Andrew Spatafora from the radio broadcast program.

A lot of the students with those diets and lifestyles usually choose to get their food somewhere to save the stress.

A banner at the cafeteria promotes some international dining options. Photo by Karina Kajishima, Spoke News.

“I have often toured down in hope that it has changed or taken feedback or had a special,” commented Ann. “But I try to avoid it now and have brought food of my own, I’ve prepared or even driven from campus to surrounding places of business and taken advantage of their friendlier options.”

International students often experience difficulties finding meals that are not North American. The cafeteria, this year, showed the students a more internationalized look, such as adding a wallpaper with different countries on it, even though some students claim that nothing has changed.

Britwin Dias, Chartwells’ food service director, said menu choices on campus are evolving.

To ensure we can address the wide variety of tastes and food interests among students and staff, we constantly change our menu, often daily,” said Dias. “While we would like to offer something for everyone every day, as you can imagine that would be an impossible situation resulting in excessive food waste and increasing overall food costs. By rotating our menu, we work to ensure that there is enough variety for everyone.”

For a student like Ann, optimism is all that is left. 

“[I’m] hoping the change happens, because I feel awkward always being the one never ordering,” either at one of Conestoga’s cafeterias or when she goes out to study with her classmates, she said.

Dias also provided a food options list for those cases.

Vegan and vegetarian food:

  • Vegetarian pizza from Pizza Pizza
  • Vegetarian gravy from Smoke’s Poutinerie
  • Vegetarian and vegan options from Subway
  • Create your own stir-fry from the cafeteria
  • Daily soups — three different ones each day and at least one vegetarian option daily
  • Wraps, sandwiches, salads from On The Go.

International food:

  • Butter chicken
  • Tandoori chicken
  • Jerk chicken
  • Coconut chicken curry bowl
  • Vegan jambalaya
  • Chana masala
  • Piri-piri chicken
  • Tuscan pasta
  • Mexican tacos
  • Chicken korma
  • Asian rice bowl with tofu
  • Chicken souvlaki
  • Spicy chipotle chickpea bowl
  • Mexican rice bowl
  • Middle Eastern beef bowl
  • Chicken pad thai
  • Tandoori chicken wrap
  • Veggie quesadilla
  • Oktoberfest sausage
  • Oktoberfest schnitzel.

According to a new ad recently put up around campus, students can give their opinion about campus dining and get a free small coffee.

“At Chartwells, we pride ourselves on offering a wide variety of menu items catering to a wide range of interests,” stated Dias. 

Although Dias says that Chartwells offers all those options, grabbing some food on campus is still something that doesn’t excite some students.

“It’s become quite discouraging to ever eat on campus, which is essentially just causing their loss of sales,” said Ann.

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