As a freshman this year, I, like everyone before me, have been forced to endure the meal plan forced upon all on-campus freshmen by Drexel University. Given two choices, the “Blue Plan” and the “Gold Plan,” I had to pick my poison in order to survive the year and sufficiently feed myself. However, this experience has been far worse than a typical college student’s experience because I am a vegetarian. After deciding that the “Blue Plan” was for me because it offered more dining dollars and gave me more freedom to buy things for myself from the market, as well as have the option of eating at Vegetate.
I quickly realized that $475 and 12 meal swipes a week was not enough to feed me for an entire quarter. The Handschumacher Dining Hall offers many options, but very few options are suitable for vegetarians. As someone who does not eat eggs, I find the omelette bar useless. That, coupled with the fact that “Meatless Mondays” is the only real time to get vegetarian food, has made it difficult to eat at the dining hall at all.
But what about pizza and pasta? Contrary to popular belief, a person can only eat so much pizza. And pasta? I was shocked to find out that even that is not vegetarian. After throwing out about three bowls of pasta, because I kept finding beef in it, I was disappointed to find out that the red marinara sauce option is only vegetarian half of the time. Other times, it has meat mixed in, again, causing the number of options for vegetarians to dwindle. But that means I can have pasta with white sauce on those days… right? Turns out that the white, alfredo sauce is made with vegetable stock. Most of the time, that is. Other times, it is made with chicken stock. How can you tell which days it’s vegetarian? You can’t.
“But you can use your meal swipes for the Take 3 at Northside!” This is true. But is that necessarily better than the Hans? With one meal swipe at Northside, I can get a water and a packet of chips as well as one entree. The only vegetarian option for an entree being a delicious box of lettuce topped with several shreds of cheese. Hooray.
OK, so I can’t use my meal swipes, but I have $475 dollars to get me through 11 weeks! That’s about $43 a week! Except, a meal and drink from Vegetate or Currito (the two places I have found most vegetarian friendly), cost a minimum of $10. But if we assume that I drink nothing but water, a meal alone costs six to eight dollars. So $43 gets me a wonderful five to seven meals a week out of the 21 that a normal human being should be eating. How healthy.
But I’m not the only one that’s gone through this silent struggle; many other have endured the vegetarians curse. Whether it is because of allergies, religious restrictions, larger or smaller diet or vegetarian- or vegan-ism, Drexel should allow for a little more freedom for people to personalize their meal plans in order to suit them. However, without providing ample choices for those who need it, Drexel should not force one of two meal plans on freshmen who might already be having a hard time adjusting to college life. I strongly suggest that Drexel comes up with a better system for freshmen meal plans before they actually start harvesting plants off the bio wall.
Neeharika Simha is a freshman political science major at Drexel University. She can be contacted at [email protected].