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Vegetarian options bland as tofu, students say

Two years after Boston University was named one of the top ten most vegetarian-friendly colleges, vegetarian students said there are reasons BU has fallen completely out of the top ten.

Although BU was ranked No. 7 in 2007 by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ youth targeted branch, peta2, vegetarian students said there is ample room for improvement in BU Dining Services’ options, which were not ranked at all at the end of 2008.

Dining Services works with Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences to develop vegetarian and vegan recipes, Dining Services spokesman Scott Rosario said in an email.

Rosario said more than 85 percent of the menu items in the residential dining halls have vegetarian options.

‘We keep the varied diets of our students in the forefront when planning and implementing menus,’ he said.

Vegetarian students said although Dining Services and Sargent are making an effort, they would like to see more variety among options.

College of Arts and Sciences freshman Shareen Roshan said vegetarian dishes are too similar.

‘It’s the same tofu pasta bowl every night,’ Roshan, who lives in Warren Towers, said.

However, College of Engineering senior Vivek Ashar said BU’s vegetarian options are better than those at other schools.

‘Some of my family ate at our dining hall and were amazed at our salad bar especially . . . I just wish they had more variety,’ Ashar said. ‘A lot of the time it’s a choice between pizza and salad.’

Vegetable stock is used in all grain and rice recipes that call for stock, and Vegan Smart Balance is used in place of all butter, Rosario said.’

Rosario said Dining Services welcomes feedback and is currently training with Thai cuisine to add to the fall menu. Many of these dishes will be vegan and vegetarian friendly, Rosario said.

‘We are always looking for ways to improve the dining program,’ he said.

Sarah Butler, a nutritionist at the Sargent Nutrition and Fitness Center, said Dining Services is doing a good job, but there is always room for improvement.

‘I get complaints from students that the tofu at the stir-fry station is just sitting in the tofu water,’ Butler said. ‘Yes, it’s cooked, but it’s nice to have some flavor.’

Butler, who teaches the vegetarian nutrition class at the Fitness and Recreation Center, said Dining Services needs to find a way to make more students aware of what vegetarian options are available.

‘ ‘It would make it worth it to order it and keep it fresh,’ she said. ‘But if it sits around and goes bad, that’s a waste of money.’

The BU Vegetarian Society is actively making recommendations and working with Dining Services, Butler said.

Vegetarian Society Vice President Meghan Faulkner said most of the time removing just one ingredient from a recipe can make it vegetarian.

‘ ‘It wouldn’t be hard to just put that ingredient on the side,’ Faulkner, a CAS sophomore, said.

Ashar said there should be more interchangeable dishes, such as pastas with vegetarian and meat sauce options.

‘I know it’s unrealistic to cater to what must be a relatively small portion of undergraduates,’ Ashar said. ‘But a few more options to change up different dishes would make vegetarian dining better.’

There have also been issues with nutrition information at the GSU, Ashar said.

‘In the salad line they use dressing with anchovies and there’s no information about it anywhere, not even on the website,’ he said. ‘I had to email the manager to find out.’

However, Butler said with a little more effort students can get creative in the dining halls to create more options, such as taking items from the salad bar and adding hummus from the sandwich line.

‘Mix it up, try a littler harder and the dining hall can have some great options,’ she said.

One Comment

  1. This article was very informative. It’s good to know BU employs competent RD’s who really care about the nutritional well-being of the students on campus.