Whether a student is a vegan, vegetarian or just looking to dabble in a few meat-free alternatives to their usual fare, NKU Dining is ready to accommodate them. A multitude of meatless meals can be found on campus, if a student has an idea of where to look.
The availability of vegetarian options in campus dining is nothing new. In fact, The Village Cafe in Norse Commons, Callahan Bistro and each restaurant in the Student Union are required to offer at least one vegetarian option, according to Melissa Pompa, manager of food services at Northern Kentucky University.
Pompa said NKU Dining is continuously making efforts to meet the needs of students with special diets, such as vegans and vegetarians.
“The goal is to make eating easier for students,” she said. “There will always be a movement with NKU Dining to keep progressing, and improving the way in which we meet people’s needs.”
Pompa said that food services is always willing to take suggestions, and that the best way for students to have a say in what type of food is offered on campus is to express their ideas on the NKU Dining website, www.dineoncampus.com/nku.
While plenty of meat-free foods are available in campus dining, students might be required to do a little exploration to find adequate variety. Not all restaurants in the Student Union denote which items on their menus are vegetarian, so students may need to read food descriptions carefully and ask questions in order to figure out what they can eat.
In The Village Cafe, the sandwich and salad stations allow for students to customize their meals to their liking, and students can come up with numerous vegetarian combinations if they use some creativity.
Besides the residential dining halls and the Student Union, there are different vegetarian snacks and light meals to choose from in the convenience stores on campus. Vegetarian menu items are also available at Einstein Bros Bagels, located in W. Frank Steely Library.
Maggie Gough, assistant director of NKU Wellness, said that vegetarians should be sure to seek out variety when eating on campus.
“Variety is important for any diet, because there are different nutrients in different foods,” Gough said. “Even students with restricted diets such as vegetarians can make their food choices different every day, if they think outside the box a little.”
Gough stresses that a wider diversity can be found where students can create their own combinations by picking from a selection of different ingredients.
Alyssa Cousineau, an NKU freshman who has been a vegetarian for three years, agrees that having the opportunity to decide what goes into her meals is the key to making NKU Dining sufficiently accommodating toward vegans and vegetarians.
“I think Norse Hall provides the most options when it comes to putting together your own vegetarian foods, but I also like The Fresh Factor in the Student Union, because you can make the salads yourself and choose from a lot of different ingredients,” she said.
Students can create their own vegetarian meals in a number of the restaurants in the Student Union. Besides Fresh Factor, a few other examples are Bangin’ Burritos, where students pick what goes into their burrito bowls, Al Dente, where students create their own pasta combinations and Chef Yan Can Cook, where students can customize their Chinese stir-fry. Of course, if somebody wants to grab something quickly that is already put together, they can always pick up a vegetarian pizza at Papa John’s or a package of the vegetable combo roles at Olo Sushi.