Vegetarian club cultivates awareness

Plano sophomore Rylee McHenry fills up her to-go container with options from the salad bar at Penland Dining Hall. Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

By Maddie Gee | Reporter

Most of us have experienced the Baylor dining halls — for better or for worse. The Vegetarian Club is working to promote a healthier lifestyle for vegetarians, vegans, those with eating restrictions or someone just looking for a change in the dining halls.

“Veganism started out with me watching a bunch of ‘What I Eat in A Day‘ videos and if you watch those videos you eventually find the vegans and you’re like ‘Oh my gosh their food is so pretty! I wanna eat that,'” Madison, Miss. senior Anna Lam said. “I was sort of learning how to cook at the time, so that was really the entry point for me — being inspired by people who seemed like they were eating really healthy. When I started doing more research about the health benefits and the more ethical standpoint, that is when I decided to stay vegan.”

Not only are the members either vegan or vegetarian, but they also all have the same stance on living a healthy lifestyle and being kind to the planet and its creatures.

“People are sort of flexible, and I think that a good message to come out of the vegetarian movement is that there is not a super hard line — that is not the point,” Lam said. “The point is to think about the decisions that you make and how do those decisions affect the world that we live in, which is something that everyone is thinking about.”

By adopting a more plant-based lifestyle, Lam said someone can impact the world and its creatures for the better.

“I think that it becoming more relatable is a good thing,” Lam said. “I think that this club has been pretty good at welcoming anyone. You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to join the club, if you are just interested in vegetarianism or just want to hang out with a bunch of vegetarians you can come. Not being super strict about it, but still trying to be responsible and educated is the goal for the club.”

Many schools are trying to change the eating habits of their students for the better. According to Business Insider, “more than 40 colleges and universities across the country, including Harvard, Kansas State, University of Southern California” have pledged to have more “plant-based” options rather than higher-calorie ones. The hope of the Vegetarian Club is that Baylor will soon adopt these practices as well.

“This would be super far down the road, but having a dining hall that is solely dedicated to fulfilling the dietary needs of those who are gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian would be really helpful. There’s really only pizza and salads at the moment,” Dallas sophomore Shannon Smith said.

Smith said finding options suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, or restrictive diet is already a struggle, but finding options at the dining halls can be even harder.

“I think it would be super helpful to have resources that would really benefit the dietary needs of people that are maybe deficient in something because they can’t have the proper vegetables because the dining halls don’t provide them, and they are started off their freshman year adopting a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. I think that focusing one sole entity that could meet all those needs would be super helpful,” Smith said.

The Vegetarian Club is working on showcasing a healthier lifestyle to Baylor’s campus and urging the university to take small steps to make a big impact for those with dietary restrictions on campus. Lam said they look forward to partnering with other organizations as well as the local community of vegans and vegetarians in Waco. They plan on attending events like “Veggie Fair” in Dallas and adopting a more environmental side to the organization.