Jess C., Colorado State University
At 10 years old, I remember looking down at my lunch tray at Reed Elementary School and rethinking the food I was about to consume. I saw the hot dog before me and for the first time in a while, I really considered what this product consisted of. Factory-farmed, cruelly tortured, sustained inhumanely, and then brutally slaughtered animals, I realized, went into a lot of what I put into my body. This hit me, and it hit me hard. And so I vowed to go vegetarian, casting all animal flesh out of my proverbial “lunch tray.” This lasted on and off for around a month. I gave up, a defeated 4th grader.
It wasn’t until two years later that I actually did my research, watched several documentaries, read up on factory farming, and made the informed and firm life choice to completely switch to vegetarianism. I told my mom that I, Jess, at age 12, was trying again. And it stuck! I have yet to eat meat or wear animal by-products since taking that vow. I’m very proud of myself, for now, at almost age 20, I can still call myself a proud vegetarian.
I am, so far, the only vegetarian voice on the College Critic, and I have something to quite proudly declare: MY place of higher education, Colorado State University, has just been voted #7 in Peta2’s Top Ten Most Vegan-Friendly Colleges of 2010! I’m thrilled. You can see the blurb about CSU and why we’re a rockin’ vegan place to be here.
I couldn’t agree more with Peta2’s choice: CSU is incredibly meticulous when it comes to vegetarian and vegan dining. All food options have signs and labels on them, and if a dish is vegetarian, there will always and without fail be a “V” next to the dish name. Similarly, if something is vegan, this is designated with an asterisk. Food labeling isn’t the only vegan-friendly facet to CSU’s dining halls: all servers have ingredient lists of every single food on the menu ready for viewing – just ask to see them. This is incredibly helpful for those hardcore vegans/vegetarians who want to make absolutely sure that their meal is cruelty-free.
At CSU, vegan and vegetarian food doesn’t stop at organization and designation though. CSU’s dining halls offer vegan and vegetarian dishes that also taste great. For example, Braiden Hall’s “Asian Noodle Bowl” line, contains tofu, rice noodles, vegetables (baby corn, broccoli, red and green peppers, mushrooms), and sauces (soy, teriyaki, and sweet and sour), all of which are completely vegan and vegetarian friendly. A personal favorite of mine, also at Braiden Hall, is the vegan substitute in the “Mashed Potato Bowl” line: popcorn seitan! Seitan is is a food made from the gluten of wheat produced by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch dissolves, leaving insoluble gluten as an elastic mass. Then, the product is cooked before being eaten. This is a great substitute for soy-based proteins. I know some vegans who either cannot stand tofu or who are actually allergic to soy. This can get very tricky, so since seitan is derived from the protein source of wheat, most consider this an acceptable—and delicious—substitute for tofu.
The choices don’t stop there. All across the CSU campus, from Corbett to Durrell, dining halls always have a nutritious, tasty vegan option. In fact, there are typically several options, but there is always one main entrée available for those vegan souls. To name a few represented throughout the six main dining halls, all vegan: Sizzling Hawaiian Salad, Sizzling Fajita Salad, General Tso’s Tofu and Broccoli, and absolutely all dining halls always carry completely vegan black bean burgers.
So CSU has organization, labels, and incredibly delicious choices, but how about cleanliness? A major concern for us vegan/vegetarian folks is whether or not our food has been contaminated with meat, and for the vegans, with other animal by-products. Perhaps one of the most reassuring actions that CSU’s dining halls takes is the complete separation of meat from the vegetarian and vegan dishes during preparation. For example, at Academic Village’s Dining Hall, at the Mongolian grill station, when you say your stir fry is vegetarian the server takes your food, yells “VEGETARIAN!” and the grillers use metal bars to separate a part of the grill for your food. They then scrub it and boil it clean, taking extra care to use separate, meat-free utensils to stir-fry the dish. This is just one example of the steps taken by CSU’s dining staff to ensure we vegetarian/vegans get exactly what we want out of our meal.
There are so many reasons why I love CSU, but my number one reason will always be its inclusive environment. With all the identities I carry, I always feel accepted at CSU. I’m so glad that just one of them (my vegetarianism) is recognized, adhered to, and even applauded.
– Through the scope of the Ultimate Ulcer J