Veggie vacancy: School lacks vegetarian variety

It takes a single step into the cafe to be surrounded by food. Pizza, sandwiches, and several other entrees line the walls creating a never-ending hall of options. As for vegetarians though, they walk down a limited aisle of peanut butter jelly sandwiches and salads.

For a district full of vegetarians, the school lunches don’t compensate for the number of people who don’t eat meat. It’s unfair how other students get a new meal each day, but vegetarians must resort to eating the same thing every day with no variety.

Vegetarianism is treated as a dietary restriction when in reality, it’s not. Several students have been a vegetarian their whole life; there isn’t a restriction when there was nothing to be restricted in the first place.

For years, schools have followed the balanced plate method in an effort to make sure every student has a proper diet and is receiving the nutrients they need to grow. But when the same three meals are provided every day, it’s difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with food.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, variety in meals is vital to human growth. Variation in meals allows other types of nutrients to enter the body, it increases life span, and it reduces the risk for heart-related diseases.

On top of that, eating the same food is boring and dull. Food is something that a lot of students look forward to during the day, but with the monotony that is vegetarian food at the school, there is nothing to look forward to.

With no variety and having no desire to eat school food, there is a large number of students who skip lunch. Sure, it’s possible to pack, but not everyone is capable. Plus, school lunches are much more convenient.

Non-vegetarians are not only provided the convenience of school lunches, but also the variety. Vegetarians already face food difficulty outside of school, why should they have to endure more at a place they’re already being stretched thin?

It is also true that without the addition of meat in someone’s diet, it can be difficult to receive the nutrients and protein that are needed. Luckily, there are several vegetarian foods that can make up for this: the consumption of seeds, eggs, quinoa, legumes and other foods make up for the loss of protein and vitamins. Vitamin supplements may also be taken to help reduce nutrient deficiency.

Except, the school doesn’t provide these foods. Vegetarian students are going to opt for unhealthy foods because they have no other options. On the other hand, schools like Columbus Academy give a wide selection of vegetarian options, ensuring that their students are receiving the meals they need. This makes finding lunch much simpler and more convenient for their students.

Also, being vegetarian is more environmentally friendly. According to the Columbia Climate School, consuming less meat reduces the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

The school should strive to increase the number of vegetarian options not only to help give more variety to students, but also because it also helps the planet. It causes no harm to add extra meatless options to the cafeteria.

It is no easy task to change the school lunch budget and start implementing new foods into the cafeteria. But, it is also no easy task walking to the same corner of the lunch room every day and eating the same thing as the day before.