Lack of food variety strains vegetarians

By Luis Cortes, Advocate Staff

Students who partake in a plant-based diet on the Contra Costa College campus may not know they have vegetarian and vegan options to choose from, however, those options seem rather limited at times.

Even now, some students may be discouraged about eating on campus because of the unknown, but mainly they choose to seek outside eateries because of the many available options.

Brix PM supervisor Rheanna Carpenter said students were asking for a strictly meatless day and former Beatles member Paul McCartney partially started the Meatless Monday movement.

The singer has a short film and a website dedicated to the meatless Monday movement.

Over the years, this campus adopted the idea of eating green with promotions like meatless Mondays which offers strictly vegetarian dishes on Mondays in the Brix café.

Along with meatless Mondays, Brix offers vegetarian options daily, Carpenter said. On any of the four counters in Brix, vegetarian-friendly products like Block & Barrel, Brix Grill, Casa Solana and Arrizzio can be ordered.

Brix offers 13 vegetarian menu options (excluding sides) and two vegan options (excluding side), with fruit also as an option.

For students with an expanded palate, the culinary arts department’s Aqua Terra Grill serves vegetarian appetizers, entrees and desserts.

To accommodate vegetarian diners, the restaurant offers a leaf-lettuce salad with Parmesan crisps, marinated roasted beets with orange-balsamic vinaigrette, fried brussels sprouts with yogurt and paprika, cashew nut hummus with roasted vegetables and light curry dressing and

Strozzapreti pasta with garlic leaf pesto and mushroom as their options.

The third option providing food on campus is Pronto, which focuses on quick takeaway lunch and breakfast orders. The eatery offers soups and french fries as mid-day vegetarian options.

The Aqua Terra Grill and Pronto are both student-run restaurants and are part of the culinary arts department.

Culinary arts department Chairperson Nader Sharkes said the campus offers salads and sugar-free items in Aqua Terra and Pronto.

The lack of variety on the Brix, Aqua Terra Grill and Pronto menus show vegetarians do have options, but not many of them on campus and the ratio between vegetarian and vegan option is far lower than options available for those students who eat meat.

Vegans have even fewer options available because most dishes that are available contain dairy products.

Carpenter said there are occasions where some people complain on meatless Monday about the lack of meat dishes.

The vegetarian lifestyle offers many health benefits, kinesiology professor Nikki Ferguson said.

“Due to the lifestyle being plant-based, high in vegetables and fruits, one can lower their risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic illness and ailments.”

Ferguson, who is also the men’s soccer coach, warns there is risk involved when choosing the vegetarian diet,

“Not all vegetarian lifestyles are healthy due to the potential lack of protein, calcium and iron that comes from meats and dairy products,” he said

Ferguson recommends that anyone considering the vegetarian lifestyle should consult a physician to make sure it is applicable based on a person’s current health status.

Nursing major Caroline Galvez said she is open to the idea of having more vegetarian options on food menus on campus.

“In general, I like to have more choices because it’s good to try something new,” Galvez said.