Campus freshens up food options

While October is known for holidays such as Halloween, Columbus/Indiginious Peoples’ Day, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is also home to other holidays such as World Vegetarian Day. World Vegetarian Day, or WVD, is a whole day dedicated to those who prefer not to eat meat. The North American Vegetarian Society created WVD in 1977, and the International Vegetarian Union approved it in 1978. 

There are many vegetarian food opportunities at Minnesota State University, Mankato, for vegetarian students. Campus Operations Manager Lee Hengescht spoke about students’ many options on campus. 

“At the dining center, it depends on the station. We have a dedication station called Roasted Roots, which contains vegetarian and vegan items,” said Hengescht. “That food is made in that station before everything else in that kitchen that day, so we don’t have to worry about any potential cross-contamination with students with an allergy.” 

The University Dining Center has a five-week rotating menu that is made during the summer. So once that five-week menu is set, it is repeated for each and every station. The executive chef team puts the core menu together every summer for the fall semester and over winter break, through a similar process for the spring semester. While making the menu, the staff takes into consideration protein proportions. They do not want every station serving the same proteins and want to ensure they have a good balance of protein and vegetarian options. 

“When we make the menu, we’re making sure we’re looking at the protein mix. So we don’t want to have every station serve beef, and we don’t have every station just serving chicken and pork,” said Hengescht. “We also ensure that at least one vegetarian soup is served, whether at the grill or at Simple Servings.” 

Students can switch out these proteins; some stations need heads up in advance, while others do not. For instance, if the grill is serving burgers, students can go up to the station and ask for a vegetarian burger. 

“If someone lets us know, a half hour, 45 minutes before, they’re going to show up and say, ‘Hey, I’m looking for something vegetarian. I’m not a huge fan of what’s being offered right now. Is there something else you can make for me than this?’ We’ll walk through the phone with that person to find something for them,” said Hengescht. “It just depends on the specific item in the station. Sometimes it’s immediate accommodations, and sometimes, it needs to be a request in advance.” 

At the Centennial Student Union (CSU), there are options for students to get vegetarian options as well. Each station has substitute proteins for students if they want a vegetarian option. There is always a vegetarian soup option, a salad bar, and substitute proteins. At Peking Plate, they have tofu and other fried items that are non-meat proteins. 

“The grill has a full assortment of veggie burgers and regular veggie items,” said Hengescht. “There are different omelets, French toast, and breakfast items that just happened to be meatless. So there are many options at every branded site at the CSU.” 

Header Photo: The University Dining Center offers a wide variety of vegetable options available for students to eat, offering accommodations for anyone, regardless of diet. (Ajay Kasaudhan/The Reporter)

Write to Lauren Viska at lauren.viska@mnsu.edu

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