(Published on April 15, 2014 in The Chronicle)
Pizza, salad, shawarmas, and varied burgers are great, but not for everyone. If you don’t live in residence or have a meal plan, but have dietary restrictions these are some of your only options on campus.
“There wouldn’t be a lot of healthy choices at least,” says dentistry professor Lisa Frisch about finding kosher foods on campus.
Frisch is Jewish and the only foods on campus with kosher symbols are found in vending machines.
There are more vegetarian and vegan options popping up around campus. At Shagwell’s customers can ask for certain foods to be meat-free such as the garden chicken wrap and there other options such as sweet potato fries and jalapeno poppers.
E.P. Taylor’s has designated vegetarian dishes such as the vegetarian quesadillas.
“Compared to last year our vegetarian options have grown considerable. Like last year we had the veggie burger. This year we have a vegetarian chili, it’s also vegan, there’s no animal by-products in there,” says Jonathan Connolly, kitchen manager at E.P. Taylor’s.
For students that live on residence or have a meal card there is a buffet dedicated to vegan and vegetarian choices as well as pastas and varying menus every four weeks. For students who aren’t, the choices are less varied and flexible. The marketplace also has vegetarian options available for students and staff to choose from.
“We offer vegetarian at Extreme Pita. They have vegetarian offerings at Pizza Pizza, at Burger Studio the veggie burger,” says Darlene Brine an Aramark worker. “So they can have their choices.”
The choices of pizza, burgers and salads can be a limited menu.
There are also people who are gluten free because of Celiac disease or an allergy. Gluten can be found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale, and any foods that have been touched by or have those ingredients in them.
Shagwell’s and E.P. Taylor’s don’t have any specific gluten free items yet, but they’re slowly being introduced with options such as corn nachos at Shagwells. Tim Hortons carries gluten free coconut macaroons at certain locations on campus such as the one located in the student services building, but there isn’t much else for students not living in residence or who don’t have a meal plan.
“We know what’s in the sauces and we are getting there. It’s starting to be a big thing all the way around. So we have gluten free working into that,” says Brine.
The Marketplace isn’t the only place on campus that is looking for more gluten free alternatives.
“There is quite a few gluten free options out there that even I wasn’t aware of. I’ll be testing them out this summer and hopefully we’ll see a couple of them on the menu for next year,” says Connolly.
Food restrictions are also evident in many of the religions on campus. People who follow the Islamic religion eat foods that are considered Halal. Halal foods can’t have pork, blood or alcohol in or around them according to the Muslim Consumer Group for Food Products. There are certain meats that are considered Halal, but they have to follow the Islamic slaughtering rules and procedures sometimes called Zabiha. Halal foods have a bigger presence in the UB Café, at UOIT and at E.P. Taylor’s.
E.P. Taylor’s has special containers and designated cooking areas for its Halal products so there is minimal cross contamination.
“When I do all my menu changes I am going to be looking into bringing in perhaps a little bit more variety for Halal,” says Connolly. “As it is right now, we have Halal burgers, they are beef. As for catering, I can bring in Halal chicken as well, but they aren’t on our regular menu.”
For students that aren’t happy with the selection or have a special request director of food services, Faybian Palmer’s advice for students is to “ask, ask, ask,” because “if it’s an issue for one person, it’s an issue for most.”
The only other options that people with food restrictions are to bring a lunch from home.