Cafeteria lacks options


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Marissa Kessler, Reporter

As if the typical teenage diet is not enough for parents to ‘stomach’, there seems to be a significant increase in the number of high school aged students who are restricting their diets by eliminating animal products.  Some of these diets include not consuming any animal products, and others, like the pescatarian diet, allow the individual to eat fish, but no other animal flesh.

One health concern associated with not consuming animal products is the lack of protein intake.  For vegans and strict vegetarians who do not eat eggs or fish, there are a limited number of choices for a healthy diet.  These students who are refining their diets at home and in their social environments are left to either neglect their diets or choose from the very small number of options this school offers.  

The school has salads, wraps and ala carte items that vegetarians and vegans can choose from; however, even the one salad that does not contain meat consists of spinach, strawberries, and mozzarella cheese, which vegans can not eat. The egg salad wraps are not always available and are also not an option for vegans. There are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Cheez-its and cheese cubes, cheese pizza and yogurt parfaits. Even these meatless choices contain dairy, which does not adhere to the vegan and strict vegetarian diet.

The pescatarian diet is one of the few restricted diets that students can maintain in school, but the limited number of choices is not practical.  Two of the semi-regular options in addition to the ones mentioned above include tuna wraps and a salad with a large, non-appealing ball of tuna salad in the middle.  Tuna is a good source of protein; however, eating tuna every day is not only a dull lunch, but too much tuna also contains mercury which, if eaten regularly over a long period of time, can cause harmful mercury levels.

It is indisputable that the cafeteria does not have enough options for those students who restrict their diets for health benefits or personal reasons.  A simple fix to this problem would simply be to offer more vegetable or grain-based  alternatives.  Although some foods like vegan chili and crab meat are rather expensive for a school lunch, there are several other options.  Unfortunately, some of the cheapest and most affordable options contain a lot of carbs, but coming from a pescatarian herself, even one or two more options would be greatly appreciated to choose from.