Meat Less

Ashleigh Stemple, Staff Writer

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The cafeteria holds a plethora of food: pizza, nachos, chicken tenders, salads. However, only a limited amount of these foods accommodates to vegans or vegetarians’ needs. It’s understood that most people do eat meat, especially at this age since the teenage body is still growing. Despite this, there are still a tremendous number of non meat-eaters with no way to consume lunch.

People are usually correct to assume that most people who are meat-free head straight to the Garden Bar in the cafeteria to get their meals. Unfortunately, the cafeteria considers a “veggie wrap” as a soft tortilla wrapped around shredded iceberg lettuce and cheese, which contains little to no nutritional value. The veggie salad

 that they serve has no other vegetables except for lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. Additionally, it contains cheese, so vegans can’t even eat it. One would think that the Garden Bar would have more “garden” in it, but the only vegan item of food is the Smucker’s Uncrustables peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, excluding the sides of fruits and veggies.

There is a large demand for plant-based food in 2018, especially in young adults and teenagers between the ages of 18-29. According to a Harris Poll National Survey in 2015, eight million people in the U.S. are vegetarian and one million are vegan. This statistic includes grade school students, like Charlie Baum. He finds it extremely difficult to find a meal at school.

“I know I’m not able to eat anything in the cafeteria, so I bring my own food. If I were to go into the line, I would only be able to get a fruit or vegetable. And it’d definitely be nice,” Charlie says, commenting on the need for more meat-less options at school. “Especially because, even if I was just vegetarian, my options would still be incredibly limited. Even things like salads have some kind of meat, and as a vegan, it’s even worse.”

Students that go to the thousands of high schools around the country are choosing to maintain a healthier diet, just like the student mentioned earlier, but the schools are refusing to serve the nutritious foods kids need

. This correlates to a current study by the American Dietetic Association (ADA), which argues that a vegetarian and vegan diet is healthier than an omnivorous diet. This healthier way of living is evidently not supported by the National School Lunch Program, which is an organization that dictates what goes into school lunches.

Based on the extensive evidence above, the generation of people who are switching to a meat-free diet is obviously growing, and the schools’ nachos and pizzas are no match against veggie burgers and tofu salads.