By Katie Tabeling
I have been a proud card-carrying member of the carnivore club for my whole life. But I’ve known a few vegetarians at Washington College—and at every meal, I always hear the same comment. “There’s nothing to eat!”
It was always a little confusing since there were dozens of options for everyone; maybe it looked like we had too much food. But really, what would someone who isn’t a vegetarian know about food options at WC? While I could choose between dozens of options, vegetarians had a choice between 10 options.
In order to completely understand the quality of dining hall food for vegetarians, I decided to try it out for five days to see what it’s like on the other side. And my findings were surprising. I learned that tofu doesn’t always taste like soft cardboard – only when it’s plain. I learned that beans and nuts are your best friends; cooked vegetables don’t always make a good meal; Mondo’s and Martha’s deliver some of the best vegetarian options on campus; and you can’t just live on pizza and French fries.
Monday, Sept. 16
Lunch— There is one universal rule of the dining hall: If nothing looks appealing in the buffet lines, you can’t go wrong with a salad or a slice of pizza. I decided to go with the leafier of the two options to kick off the week. In a fit of boredom of balsamic, blue cheese, and ranch, I decided to try one of the newer salad dressings: poppy seed. Drizzled atop a bed of lettuce, carrots, and feta cheese, the unique combination of creaminess and tartness was the perfect thing to spice things up. I also sprinkled on walnuts to add some protein, even though I’m not crazy about nuts. All in all, a very fresh and successful first meal.
Dinner— Now, I’m no stranger to Mondo’s or Martha’s Kitchen, but I have never tried any of their vegetarian options until today. I ordered the Very Veggie Sub on flatbread. The cucumbers, bell peppers, and carrots were very fresh, up until they were toasted lightly. I added a bit of lettuce and tomato to add more body to the sandwich. The star of this dish: the hummus. Spread evenly on the bread, the pepper and garlic (and whatever else they put in hummus) brought together the otherwise bland vegetables with a bit of a kick.
Tuesday, Sept. 17
Lunch— I decided it wouldn’t exactly be fair if I ate salad the entire week, so I decided to try something new: the portabella burger. According to the dining hall, the mushroom had a balsamic glaze and but I couldn’t really taste it. In fact, I could only focus on the chewiness of the portabella and roasted red pepper. It wasn’t exactly warm when I got it, which only let it get soggy when I finally sat down. Braised cabbage with a little salt and goldfish saved the meal.
Dinner— When Robin’s behind the stove at My Pantry, you know something good’s cooking. So when I tried the asian stir fry, I was surprised at the mess of long noodles and carrots that was handed to me. The sign advertised broccoli and onions hiding in the tangled mess on my plate, but I couldn’t really taste anything but sesame dressing. The portion was way too much to even be appealing, so I switched to safer choices. Mozzarella sticks were hot, gooey, and easy to eat.
Wednesday, Sept. 18
Lunch— After yesterday’s disappointment, I continue to play it safe and get the roasted vegetable pizza, which mainly consisted of broccoli and onions. The fries were also perfectly crunchy. I spent the most of my time enviously watching my friends devour their chicken.
Dinner— My last experience with Tofu was freshman year. It was mushy, uncooked, and plain. I questioned why I even tried it in the first the place. So when I ordered the tofu buffalo wrap, I was expecting the same blandness. Thanks to my low expectations, the wrap tasted exactly like a typical chicken wrap—same spicy flavor, same balance of protein to assorted vegetables. Throwing on my usual banana peppers, onions and blue cheese dressing made me forget I was a temporary vegetarian.
Thursday, Sept. 19
Breakfast— Another universal rule of the dining hall: Omelets require a very long wait. As a frequent patron of Robin’s breakfast station, I’m very familiar with the long lines that surround her stovetop. Nothing looked particularly good on lunch buffet, so I resigned to breakfast of hardboiled eggs, potatoes and vegan sausage. I’ve been eating vegan sausage for a while because they’re less greasy than regular sausage, despite the different texture. It’s a little disappointing about the options they have for vegetarians if they have no time to spare.
Dinner— I’m not a burrito person, but since I wasn’t dead yet I decided to stop playing it safe. It paid off. The Veggie Burrito at Martha’s Kitchen simply had the best combinations of vegetables I’ve had all week. Zucchini! Squash! Tomatoes! Onions! Black beans! And the salsa—I don’t know what WC does to make their salsa look so unappealing, and yet the perfect pitch of spice, but they need to keep it up.
Friday, Sept. 20
Lunch— My vegetarian excursion ended anticlimactically. Although it was advertised as “a twist on an American classic,” the Vegetarian Hot Dog proved to be as forgettable as the original. But if they were trying to keep the original’s spirit I suppose they succeeded. Notably, the veggie dog was very thin and small compared to the meat Hot Dogs they were offering. Waffle fries and broccoli completed the dish, and were, as usual, perfectly cooked.
Dinner— I returned for a wrap from Mondo’s. This time, the Tofu was marinated in Caesar dressing. I’m slowly considering that the marinated option might be the secret to the meatless option here. It might possibly even better than the