I have faced many challenges as a vegan in Grambling.
While crawfish and barbeque may sound delicious to others it’s disgusting for me to even think about eating.
I have been vegetarian for six years and this year I made the transition to a plant-based/ vegan lifestyle. At home in Chicago, I have many vegetarian options. There are various vegan restaurants across the city, in north Louisiana there aren’t any.
This was a difficult change for me freshman year, along with the already challenging transition of moving far away from home.
When I took my campus tour of GSU, the tour guides informed me the McCall Dining Hall was implementing more vegetarian options.
Once I enrolled and began going to The Cafe, I realized this was not true. There were practically no vegan friendly options. One item I liked was the veggie burger. Unfortunately, I was only able to try it once because each time I tried to get one they were out of stock. I faced the same dietary restriction issues in Grambling my freshman and sophomore year.
I consistently made administration aware of these issues and I was assured more options would be implemented however, each year nothing changed. I recall being excited hearing The Cafe would be renovated and include a vegetarian and vegan station.
Although I am an off-campus student, a meal plan is required. I tried to make usage of my meal plan and go to The Cafe because I thought there would be more vegetarian options.
Although The Cafe renovations look amazing, the food is still the same. The option at the vegetarian station always looks distasteful.
I spoke with a cafe employee in regards to the ‘vegetarian station’. The employee informed me students rarely eat the vegetarian section because the food doesn’t look or taste good.
There are still scarce options for vegan students.
Across the street at the Tiger Express there are no options for vegan students. The Tiger Express includes Chick-Fil-A, Firehouse Subs, Pizza Hut. The Tiger Express also has Taco Bell however, it has been closed for the last several weeks without prior notice.
When Taco Bell was open I was able to eat some vegan options there. However, each time I made a request for no meat, my order was made wrong and I was given meat.
One time I recall biting into my food and realizing there was meat inside. I was disgusted and irritated because I specified I did not want meat in my burrito. There are no healthy vegan options in the convenience store located inside The Tiger Express either.
I visited recently and the options in the healthy section include items like yogurt parfaits and turkey sandwiches.
There are no vegan options, the other options include candy, sodas and chips. Without any vegan options in the Tiger Express, I gave my Tiger Bucks away to students in need. With the extreme lack of vegan options I requested my meal plan be refunded.
Administration did not approve my request.
Administration encouraged me to share ideas on future vegan options for other students.
Thankfully, I will not have to waste more money on a meal plan next semester. I challenge the administrators that denied my meal plan reimbursement request to be vegan for just one week in Grambling. I believe this will be the only way for them to understand the difficulties I’ve faced here. They will see the only option is to eat the fruit and salad everyday for every meal inside The Cafe. They will realize they have no options to eat in the Tiger Express or Tiger Village.
Aside from implementing vegan options for students, Grambling needs healthier options overall. With obesity rates increasing across the nation, students should have more healthier food to choose from.
Many campus events hosted include barbeques or crawfish boils for students. While the majority of the students eat meat, students with dietary restrictions should still be included. In the city of Grambling, Tiger Village the only two restaurants are chicken places.
The Subway located in Grambling is typically always out of the veggie patty.
I am expressing the challenges I faced not to bash administration or The Cafe but to share insight on this ongoing problem.
I understand it is not a one person fix, it will take time. However, I do believe it is unfair for the administration not to reimburse me for my meal plan with my dietary restrictions and their inability to meet those needs for me at The Cafe and Tiger Express.
Although I will not have a meal plan next semester, I have been speaking with The Cafe Director and dietitian about my concerns in hopes that future vegetarian and vegan options are available for students.
– Jasmine Franklin is a rising junior from Chicago. Her major is mass communication.