Almost without fail, each time I check the BC Dining menu I am disappointed with the options. I’ve become increasingly frustrated. I’ve lost all hope for any form of prepared tofu or other vegetarian protein options. During my 1.5 years at BC, I’ve found it progressively harder to eat at the dining halls with my dietary restrictions.
For almost a year now, I’ve been a pescatarian, but I try to only eat locally or sustainably caught fish. This means that I entirely avoid eating salmon because it is almost always farmed rather than wild-caught or local. So, while at school the only fish I eat is tuna sushi – my options quickly become rather limited. Over the past 2 years, I have further developed my diet for environmental and ethical reasons. I haven’t eaten red meat in over 2 years and it’s about 1.5 years for chicken. I’ve slowly progressed to the diet I have now, and I’m happy with my current dietary choices. I shouldn’t have to compromise my moral, ethical, and environmental beliefs just to achieve the bare minimum nutrition my body needs to function.
While BC Dining attempts to prepare foods for those with dietary restrictions such as vegans or nonrestrictive pescatarians, they really lack options for vegetarians. Most times I fall back on the vegan option because otherwise, the options are only pasta, salad, or vegetables. There’s a clear lack of a protein option for vegetarians, which is an undeniable problem for students' nutrition. There is rarely a meal option with tofu, and if tofu is an option, it’s that gross raw tofu that almost no one eats. I think that BC Dining really needs to make an effort to cater to different diets more. It’s not difficult or different to cook tofu, it can be cooked just like chicken, so I don’t understand why they refuse to offer those types of options.
Personally, being a restricted pescatarian, I definitely do not get all the nutrition and protein that I should be getting with the available food options. Due to the lack of meals with a vegetarian protein alternative recently, I’ve had little choice but to cave in and eat salmon and I have had to start buying more groceries. It was very difficult and upsetting for me to have to eat salmon for numerous reasons, but since I work out 4-5 days a week, I need sufficient protein in order to sustain myself. I also have started buying tofu to cook myself and vegan protein powder to make protein shakes. It’s very important to me that I get the nutrition my body needs and that I eat enough in general. BC Dining really does not make it easy to have a good relationship with food or eat with dietary restrictions. It amazes me that students are vegan at BC because the options are just so limited and lack proper nutrients. There are no vegan yogurt options such as coconut milk yogurt or almond milk yogurt, so there’s no protein option at breakfast. The only sources of protein at lunch are usually beans or raw tofu tossed into a salad, and portions are not large enough to be sufficient. Then, finally, for dinner, there is usually a vegan option, but you must be an adventurous eater (like vegan steak and cheese, idk sounds scary to me). Otherwise, when there’s no vegan option, you’re just eating rice and vegetables – again, no protein. I must believe that vegan students are nutrition deficient in all categories, or constantly ordering in food and buying groceries. The options are limited and especially tiresome for students with dietary restrictions.
BC Dining needs to put the effort into providing more nutritious options for students with dietary restrictions. Food is fuel, and if students can’t get the nutrients they need, then it might start affecting all other aspects of their lives. If you don’t get proper nutrition, then you’ll likely be more tired and fatigued, therefore needing either more sleep or more caffeine. A confused sleep schedule and caffeine reliance aren’t healthy or sustainable. All of this then can affect students' academics, and they might not perform as well due to a lack of focus in classes and on homework. Nutrition is everything, literally, your body relies on all these vitamins and nutrients to function properly. A good day starts with a balanced breakfast – for everyone, vegans included.