Struggles of being vegan at CSUMB

Going vegan has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. It has opened my eyes to the cruelty that goes on in the meat industry and the dairy industry. It has completely changed my life, for the better. Being a vegan at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), however, can be a little challenging.

There are not that many options food wise on campus. The Otter Express (OE) has virtually nothing that is vegan. The only thing you would be able to order would be a veggie sandwich, but even that is pretty plain and doesn’t fill you up.

I recently found out after speaking to a staff member in the dining commons, that they do have a vegan sushi option in the OE. However, they sell out fast and you need to get there around 12, if you want some veggie rolls. This is great, but I do wish there were more options besides sushi or a sandwich.

In the Dining Commons (DC), there is a “vegan” station, but the food doesn’t always appeal to me, sometimes it’s curry based, and my stomach can’t really handle curry based foods.

I recently traveled to Portland, Oregon to visit my sister, and was amazed by how many vegan options there are in that city. You can get any food you want, in a vegan version. I went to an all vegan barbecue place and ordered a vegan burger with mac and cheese on it, which was in a word, life changing. I thought to myself, now why can’t my school offer something similar? Is it that hard to get vegan patties? Or make vegan mac and cheese?

Just because I am vegan, doesn’t mean I don’t like junk food. Most college students love eating pizza, burgers and fries, and as a vegan I’m not any different. At Monte’s on campus, they do offer a vegan burger which is quite good. Monte’s is not that accessible though because its more expensive and located on the other side of campus from where the other dining options are.

I got to speak with Michelle Lagana, who is the Operations Manager for resident dining. I asked her about the vegan section in the dining commons and she said it’s one of the most popular stations they have. She said that they’re looking to expand the section- and offer more of a variety of vegan foods.

“How many vegan students do you think are on campus?” I asked.

“Well I think it’s a pretty low percentage, maybe about three percent of students,” Lagana replied.

This number wasn’t shocking to me, as I know going vegan isn’t for everyone and can seem challenging, especially for college students. She was excited to tell me she is going vegan herself, and that she’s almost there.

“I wish there were vegan dessert options,” I had mentioned.

“Well, we are working on that. We are hoping to have vegan dessert options in the future,” Lagana stated

This was encouraging to hear, because sometimes I would walk by the dessert area, and read that all the items contain eggs or milk, sigh, and walk away in dismay. I may be vegan but I love a cookie as much as the next person!

As for the other parts of campus, I am hoping that there will be more options for vegans like myself in the coming semesters. I for one, will be heading back to the DC for some yummy vegan food and I encourage everyone to do the same! Try something new, you have nothing to lose!

Lagana said it was important to get feedback from students because it helps the staff decide on what they need to change or improve, so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to let a staff member know.


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