By Phil Brown
With the unpredictable appetite and wallet of a typical college student, I don’t find myself planning out every meal too far in advance. When I’m on campus and I need food, I haven’t always planned out my meal based on whatever food options are scheduled for that day. So when it’s lunchtime and I left my brown paper bag at home, or if the urge to snack arises in between classes, I’m grateful for our UNO Food Services for providing such a wide variety of food options on both campuses and in several buildings.
But I do have one beef with UNO’s campus food providers, or rather, it’s an over-reliance on beef I take issue with. While the school does provide vegetarian options, and while I’m immensely grateful to the many delicious non-meaty items, they aren’t consistent enough at providing those different varieties of foods, while foods containing meat are overrepresented.
That’s right, I’m a vegetarian. The slightly more wishy-washy cousin of the dreaded vegan, I confess I’m only the former because I’m not brave enough to attempt vegan life in Nebraska. Having already forsworn meat, I feel like it would be tempting fate to swear off dairy as well. I would half-expect to be stoned to death by ruddy meat-filled cornhuskers at any moment as I wandered through the produce
aisles of specialty grocery stores.
Vegetarianism is a personal choice for me, but it’s one I’ve made not based on an arbitrary taste, but for ethical and health reasons. Since it’s unnecessary to eat meat to live a healthy life in our modern civilization, it appears to me that killing and eating animals is an arbitrary and destructive behavior. While I recognize my individual choice won’t change entire industries centered around this behavior, it’s something I’ve decided not to participate in on a personal scale.
I certainly don’t judge those who eat meat, while I may disagree with them. In so many infinitesimal ways I participate in perpetuating the same industries that create the food they eat. There’s not much difference between us in terms of our control over how many animals die for food. Choosing for myself not to directly ingest that food doesn’t resuscitate a single animal.
But while I do my best not to judge meat-eaters, I should be able to expect a certain level of inclusion. There shouldn’t be many barriers to a high level of vegetarian inclusion, for the simple reason that omnivores don’t have moral objections to any part of a vegetarian diet, while vegetarians do hold moral or other objections to an omnivore diet. Providing for a vegetarian diet simultaneously provides for an omnivore’s diet, so there’s no conflict.
UNO’s food providers have reached a level of inclusion that is almost great. But in my time at the university I’ve noticed that the vegetarian options are inconsistent between given days. One day there will be a vegetarian soup option, the next there won’t. One day there’ll be a black bean burger, the next I’ll have to settle for a salad. It’s a small quibble, but when I see my less-burdened classmates pandered to with a dizzying array of sizzling flesh, it seems the least I can ask for some consistency with my boring vegetables.