Just like any school’s dining service, Lane has its ups and downs. Some days, I’ll do the rounds, see nothing I like, and revert to pasta or some other basic daily offering. Nowadays, there are so many different dietary preferences or restrictions that need to be considered and catered to, and factoring in simple pickiness or dislike of certain foods makes it very difficult for people to be fully satisfied all the time. That being said, one underappreciated part is the vegan section.
Of course, the meal offered at the vegan section is not always a meal that I particularly love, but the sole fact that it exists is something to be grateful for. The Lane staff does a great job of providing healthy, well-rounded vegan meals on a daily basis. Planning meals that hit the restrictions of a vegan diet while still providing the necessary nutritional elements is a lot harder than some might expect. Cooking without meat, dairy, eggs, and every other animal product while still providing meals that provide an adequate amount of protein, calcium, and the necessary vitamins takes careful planning and consideration.
If there isn’t something provided conveniently in the vegan section itself, the necessary components of a well-rounded vegan meal can be found by the salad bar and nut butters. This means that a student might need to get a little creative, but every once in a while you have to!
Beyond providing the necessary nutrients, the vegan section is also varied in its daily and weekly offerings. Not to mention all of the meals that are globally diverse. Having foods ranging from meatless meatballs to mac and cheese to tempura tofu stir fry offered is something I try not to take for granted. In addition, the fact that there are vegan desserts and pastries offered with almost every meal is incredible. Baking without eggs and dairy is a feat that I often struggle with. Nonetheless, the desserts are consistently good.
The vegan section has my utmost appreciation, but there are definitely some areas that I believe could be improved. One thing that was pointed out to me was that the labels of the food could be more clear. It is not uncommon for students to be both gluten and dairy free. The vegan section is often accommodating to both restrictions, but sometimes foods that could or could not be gluten free, are not labeled. Of course, students can inquire about this, but it would be ideal if the labels were clear with those distinctions. In addition, it would be nice to have meat-less meat imitation products offered, like vegan chicken nuggets or something within that realm.
Finally, there are some weeks that are very rice or quinoa centralized, which can become very repetitive. If possible, having those meals more spaced out would be ideal.
Overall, the vegan section that Lane offers is a gem. It is something that I am truly grateful for in my everyday college life. Food is very important to me, and the thought and effort put into the vegan meals that are provided is a blessing to the meatless folks.