The Wildcat Voice

Should More Vegan and Vegetarian Options Be Offered in the MMS Cafeteria?

Ilana Miller, Staff Writer

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According to mercyforanimals.org, the number of people who call themselves vegans in the United States has increased by 600 percent since 2014. However, aside from a few vegetarian options like cheese pizza, quesadillas, meatless tacos, and pre-ordered salads, vegetarian and vegan options are very limited in Mayfield’s cafeterias. With the increasing popularity of veganism and vegetarianism, should more vegan and vegetarian options be offered?

A vegetarian is someone who chooses not to eat meat. A vegan, a type of vegetarian, does not eat or use any animal products, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, wool, and fur.

People choose not to eat meat and other animal products for a variety of reasons, like ethical or religious restrictions, as well as health problems.

Regardless of the why individuals choose to be vegetarian or vegan, offering more plant-based options in middle school cafeteria could definitely make lunch a little bit easier for students with eating restrictions.

Mrs. Bean, the Gifted Intervention Specialist at Mayfield Middle School, has been a vegetarian “on and off since [she] was a little kid” and became “mostly vegan” around eight years ago, for both health and ecological reasons. She stated, “[If there were more vegan options] I would definitely purchase lunch more often!”

Similarly, eighth graders Grace Frazier and Alli Wank, both vegetarians, agreed that they would love to have more meat-free options available to them.

Mrs. Bean also explained that she is usually busy in the morning and often doesn’t have time to pack herself a full lunch, which would make vegan options in the cafeteria very helpful.

Even for students and staff who eat meat, having plant-based options offered in the cafeteria would be beneficial for their health. According to go-eo.org, choosing not to eat meat a few times a week makes the risk of diabetes 28 percent lower. Eating less meat can also lower one’s chances of developing cancer or heart disease.

Also, choosing a meat-free option for lunch can have positive effects on the environment. Decreasing the amount of animal products consumed can significantly decrease the amount of water and fossil fuels used.“If everyone in the U.S. went meatless for just one day we would save 70 million gallons of gas,” go-eo.org states.

 

While having vegan and vegetarian options available would be easier and more convenient for some students and staff, offering these options could be difficult.

There is not much demand for vegan or vegetarian options. For example, veggie burgers were once offered in the cafeteria, and they were later discontinued because so few were bought.

“If there was a high demand for the vegan items, we could provide more vegan items, but right now we’re not seeing a high demand for that,” explained Mrs. Smeal, the Food Service Director for Mayfield City Schools.

“I understand that there are some serious limitations…when you have to feed a large number of kids, it’s probably kind of hard to make a vegetarian option when you know only twenty kids are going to get it. If they could manage to do something like that, I think it would be wonderful,” stated Mr. Carlson, an eighth-grade math teacher who became a vegan around seven years ago.

With so many students to serve, it can be difficult to meet specific needs of a seemingly small amount of people.

To accomplish this, Mrs. Smeal expressed that feedback from students about options they would like offered in the cafeteria would be very helpful. Some vegans and vegetarians at Mayfield Middle School suggested foods such as veggie burgers or black bean burgers, quinoa bowls, and salads without cheese.

Cost is also a barrier to offering vegan and vegetarian options. Mrs. Smeal explained that, while the cost of school lunch at Mayfield is currently three dollars, certain vegan options might have to cost more in order to stay on budget.

Overall, there are many rewards to offering vegan and vegetarian options in the cafeteria, including convenience as well as health and environmental benefits. With vegetarianism and veganism steadily gaining popularity, it would definitely be appreciated if these options became a reality.

Should the MMS cafeteria offer more vegetarian or vegan options?

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Should More Vegan and Vegetarian Options Be Offered in the MMS Cafeteria?