Herbivores: extinction (again) by starvation

I’ve been a vegetarian for the past nine years. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to force you to give up your precious bacon.) During that whole time, I have been a frustrated patron of various Edina Public Schools cafeterias. They offer few healthy options, and those get pared down even further when you eliminate all of the foods containing meat or animal by-products that vegetarians and vegans can’t eat. Seriously, consider the cafeteria food. Eliminate everything with meat, and picture what you would have left. Pretty dismal, right? Now try eliminating everything with dairy or eggs or other animal by-products. You’re basically left with water.

I’ve never eaten a school lunch because it’s so unhealthy.

— Meg Doyle

I can get fries, pizza, or pasta. If I’m feeling up to waiting in the ten minute lines, I can go to the sandwich bar or get a burrito. For adolescent vegetarians, these options simply will not do. My doctor has always been worried about me getting enough protein and other vitamins and nutrients, so that’s a constant concern for me. None of these options have much nutritional value at all, especially not when you consider that vegetarians need lots of beans, nuts, and grains. Senior Meg Doyle, who has been a vegan for 3 years, said, “I’ve never eaten from the cafeteria, but if I did I would be concerned because they don’t have many leafy greens, whole grains, or non-processed foods or non-dairy alternatives.”

Some of you might be saying, “go eat a salad, you hippies” but we can’t! They do not consistently make vegetarian salads. Their prepared foods include salads, sandwiches, and wraps, most of which had meat. On Tuesday, April 29th, they had Caesar salads with chicken in them, wraps with turkey in them, and sandwiches with all kinds of meat. Yes, some days they are more vegetarian-friendly. They have a great veggie and hummus plate and a good veggie wrap. But they don’t consistently stock these items.

Vegetarians and vegans are pretty much forced to bring their own lunches if they want to get all of the nutrients they need. “I always pack a lunch, I’ve never eaten a school lunch because it’s so unhealthy and I’m honestly not even sure if there are any vegan options,” said Doyle.

The best solution would be for them to put in place a salad bar stocked with nutritious things like beans, spinach, kale, quinoa and other grains, and fresh vegetables. Yes, those are much more costly options, but a small adjustment like that would go a long way in helping out vegetarians, vegans, and herbivores alike.