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Miami vegetarians, I hope you’re hungry… for nothing

I used to be proud of vegetarian cuisine on Miami’s campus.

When my friends would complain about dry chicken chunks or strangely-textured dining hall mystery meat, I would proudly boast delicious vegetable omelets from Pulley Diner, Toasted Bagel’s fantastic array of meatless options and, of course, an unbeatable vegetarian potato soup from the dining halls. Even after the recent Aramark dining overhaul, I was quite pleased to find a new pulled oats BBQ sandwich at Red Zone, tofu stir fry at Kabar and falafel pretty much everywhere in Armstrong.

But right now, as a vegetarian at Miami who tries to eat lunch at the student center almost every day, I am not too thrilled with Aramark.

It seems that every time that I try to order a vegetarian option anywhere in Armstrong, restaurants are out of it. 

At the time of writing this, the following Armstrong Student Center restaurants were out of these vegetarian options:

  • Pulley Diner: vegan chicken sandwich, vegan chicken tenders

  • Kabar Sushi and Asian Bistro: tofu lettuce cups, vegetable potstickers, tofu stir fry, pad thai

  • Red Zone: vegan pulled oats BBQ sandwich (which, I should note, is one of only 2 vegetarian entrees offered at Red Zone)

  • Eiffel Pizza and Pasta: veggie pasta, tomato basil pasta

Field to Fork and Evergrains at Haines’, thank goodness, had all of their options — but seeing as how both of those are build-your-own bowl places, it’s a lot easier to be vegetarian at those two anyway.

Most of these restaurants being out of so many options left very few for vegetarians dining at Armstrong: a grilled cheese sandwich or black bean burger at Pulley Diner, fried rice or vegetable spring rolls at Kabar, mac n’ cheese at Red Zone and pesto pasta, carbonara pasta or veggie pizza at Eiffel. 

That’s nine options unavailable to eight options available — over half of the vegetarian hot meal options in Armstrong.

Red Zone has been out of their pulled oats BBQ sandwich, something I tried and loved during the first week of school, for over a week. I’ve checked almost every day, only to be greeted by the same greyed-out option on the GrubHub app. So, on Sunday for dinner, I went for their only other vegetarian option — macaroni and cheese. (Which, I should note, they are now out of, as of Tuesday night.)

I’m a big fan of BBQ sauce on my mac n’ cheese (sue me), so I opted for the BBQ chicken mac n’ cheese bowl, sans chicken. Pasta and creamy cheese sauce, topped with the sweet, smoky flavors of BBQ sauce — plus fried onions? Sign me up.

Except, even though I definitely clicked the “no chicken” option on the GrubHub app when I ordered, I opened my bowl to find a heaping pile of BBQ chicken atop my creamy pasta and cheese sauce.

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Nine pieces of chicken. Nine. 

Perfectly reasonable for if you had wanted chicken, but I most definitely had not. What’s the point of having the “no chicken” button if you’re just going to put chicken on it anyway?

Between this “ChickenGate” incident and the fact that Armstrong, at the time of writing this, was out of over half of their vegetarian options, I am seeing a complete lack of respect for vegetarian diners on Miami’s campus. 

According to an Alliance for Science study from March, 1 in 10 Americans don’t eat meat. If the same proportion is applied to Miami, that would suggest that around 10% of campus would be struggling with eating at Armstrong. 

Personally, I doubt that the number is that high — other than myself, I don’t know that many vegetarians at Miami — but there is still a significant vegetarian population on campus, so why is vegetarian food at Miami so hard to find nowadays?

As an off-campus student, I have no idea about the dining halls, but I hope the situation in those is better than the current Armstrong situation for vegetarians. 

And I hope that Aramark gets its shit together and starts stocking more vegetarian food. If you’re going to have vegetarian options on your menus, you’d better have the food to serve them to hungry vegetarians on your campus.

Finally, if I ever find chicken in my no-chicken BBQ mac n’ cheese again, I will not be too happy about it. To the employees in Armstrong dining restaurants, please check the special instructions on GrubHub orders — though for me it was just a matter of picking the chicken off and writing an angry opinion article about it, the special instructions are there for a reason. Dietary restrictions are nothing to be trifled with.

Miami vegetarians, I hope you’re hungry — and Aramark, I hope you’re ready to solve that.