Ask an average carnivorous Northwestern student about vegetarianism and you get a similar reaction out of most of them. “But what about bacon?” said one student, as she enjoyed the recent Tour of Pork. “I could never do it,” said another. While no one is forcing anyone to cut out meat completely, it might be beneficial to take a second look at why NUCuisine is so into Meatless Mondays and maybe even why you should give it a try.
According to the Vegetarian Society, approximately one quarter of the world’s population enjoys a mostly vegetarian diet. Surprisingly, the average vegetarian suffers no more from iron deficiency than those who eat meat. Vegetarianism also has the potential to reduce environmental issues. The United Nations Environment Programme also reported that livestock is the second or third largest contributor to global environmental issues. When you add the fact that vegetarians have the lowest rates of obesity, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure, it’s not impossible to see why many people may elect to live the meat-free life.
“Most people get more meat in their diet than they should,” said Justin Heaton, the campus dietitian for NUCuisine at Northwestern University. “When eating meat, it should be about 3-4 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards for a meal.” Heaton added that there are other ways to receive the nutritional benefits of meat, namely protein. “Tofu, lentils and quinoa are really easy ways to get lots of protein.” Heaton said. “Beans are really good too.”
Every Monday, NUCuisine offers an increased amount of vegetarian and vegan options in the dining halls across campus. However, don’t expect bland vegetables and unidentifiable fake meats to dominate the menu. Instead, NUCuisine chefs have developed vegetarian and vegan recipes that are not only flavorful, but unique as well.
“We focus on pastas, cheeses, and seasonal vegetables,” said Chris Studtmann, the executive chef and operations manager for NUCuisine. “We also do fun foods, like build your own nachos, potato bars and ethnic street foods.”
While students enjoy the fresh and flavorful meatless food, the chefs have an equally good time challenging themselves to create innovative dishes and experimenting with new ingredients.
“I have fallen in love with complex gains lately, and really enjoy making them with seasonal salads,” Studtmann said. “One of my favorite recipes we are making in the NUCuisine kitchen these days is our golden raisin quinoa salad.”
Whether you choose to go meatless on Mondays, all days, or no days, it’s good to know there is an abundance of meatless options open to you at locations across campus. For more information on Meatless Monday, a meatless diet, or any health and wellness related topics, contact our campus dietitian Justin Heaton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article by: Maya Voelk, Sophomore, Medill School of Journalism and Integrated Marketing