Writer: Catherine S.
Editor: James Y.
Visuals: Jasmine R.
Vegetarianism is now a global trend. According to EuroMonitor International, Philippines is among the top 5 countries that has had the greatest increase in vegetarian population in 2017, and the vegetarian population is expected to grow even more. The growing concern on health, environment, and ethical issues over meat production has led to the global awareness on the impacts of meat consumption and ultimately the rising trend of vegetarianism. Today, the Bamboo Telegraph interviewed some vegetarians in our community on their opinions on maintaining vegetarian diets in ISM. In this article, the term “vegetarian” will be an overarching term that includes the five types of vegetarian diets: lacto-ovo-vegetarians, ovo-vegetarians, pesco-vegetarians, semi-vegetarians, and vegans.
What does it mean to be a vegetarian in ISM? Suman P. (11) is a vegan who only eats plant-based foods. When asked the reason behind her choice to become vegan, she replied, “I am vegan due to my religious and personal reasons, as I am also lactose-intolerant. My mom is also vegetarian, so I was introduced to a vegetarian diet from her influence as well.” As a vegan, she believes that it is still difficult to maintain a vegan diet solely from the school canteen. She also says, “I bring my own lunch. Being a vegan does not mean that you have to eat salad every single day. I hate salad! Despite the vegetarian menus offered in the school, it is still not very popular and you have to compromise taste and flavor for many vegetarian menus if you decide to become vegetarian.” On the other hand, Cinta D. (11) and Malay R. (11) say that Yogi Chef makes it easier to maintain a vegetarian diet in school. They have also noted that the other options available in vendors such as Prego or Chihuahua allow a variety of options to choose from.
Suman, Malay, and Cinta all bring lunch from home, and this is common among most vegetarians in school. The reason why many vegetarians choose to bring their own lunch instead of buying from the Kantina rises from the issue that although there is some variety, there aren’t enough vegetarian menus provided at the canteen. Annie’s Kitchen mainly provides Filipino cuisine that uses meat as a primary ingredient and the Bearcat Cafe offers non-vegetarian sandwiches that include meat or fish. However, some vendors in the Kantina are creating vegetarian options to their menus. For example, GoKinjo offers vegetable tempuras, Chihuahua sells vegetarian burrito bowls, and one of Prego’s most popular menu items is vegetarian arancini. Yogi Chef serves multiple vegetarian options as well. Vegetarian discounts are also provided at Chihuahua once a week. While the progress made by the vendors should be commended, it is evident that the vegetarian menus are simply offered as vegetarian options because they do not use meat in their ingredients. Suman points out that vegetarian menus do not provide sufficient nutrients needed for their diet. One of the crucial supplements that must be followed with a vegetarian diet is protein, which is often supplemented through alternatives such as tofu. However, as the vegetarian options provided in the Kantina are mainly focused on simply vegetables, many vegetarians have to bring food from home to maintain balance in nutrients.
In addition to the canteen, the vegetarian options provided during ICARE needs some progress as many vegetarians are mostly served rice and salad. This is mainly due to the widespread use of meat in the Filipino cuisine. Some popular Filipino dishes such as adobo, tapa, and lechon use meat as the primary ingredient, which results in only a few options available for vegetarians. Suman says that ICARE is a time when she has to compromise taste and flavor the most, which makes a lot of vegetarians bring vegetarian options such as instant ramen to the site. Malay agrees, he says “I feel like the ICARE sites don’t provide enough options for vegetarian food. I have eaten rice with soy sauce multiple times because the other option available was only a salad or a salad with rice.”
It is important to raise awareness within the school on providing nutritious meals for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian students. As the Kantina is offering new vegetarian options, let’s support the school and the Kantina to continue their efforts on providing diverse meal options for students of diverse dietary needs.
The Manila Times. “Vegan Communities Growing, along with Research on Health Benefits.” The Manila Times, The Manila Times Publishing Corp, 8 July 2014, http://www.manilatimes.net/2014/07/08/news/latest-stories/vegan-communities-growing-along-with-research-on-health-benefits/109957/109957/.
“Types of Vegetarians: Lacto-Ovo, Pesco-Vegetarians, and More.” @Berkeleywellness, http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/what-type-vegetarian-are-you.