On April 25, Miami University’s dining services hosted what they called a “Plant Forward Picnic” at Western Dining Commons. This event was in an effort to promote the steps Miami is taking to serve more sustainable and plant-based foods.
In the true nature of a picnic, the chefs set up the buffet of options outside Western, along with many wooden tables for students to truly enjoy the food in nature. The dining staff also set up a picket fence around the event to give the illusion of being in a garden.
Upon walking outside the dining hall, students were given a tray — made of sustainable materials, of course — with enough spaces for each course offered.
The first food option was referred to as “crunchy bits.” These were cooked and seasoned edamame beans which were very tasty and a good plant-based protein option.
Next up on the menu were buffalo cauliflower wraps, marketed as “cigars” due to their shape. These were another good source of plant-based protein.
My favorite part of the meal, though, had to be the cowboy caviar and watermelon salad.
Cowboy caviar is a bean salad made popular off TikTok that is composed of black beans, tomatoes, corn, edamame, red onion and avocado. This is one of my favorite things to make at home, so needless to say I was very excited to see it being served at the dining hall.
The watermelon salad was similar to the cowboy caviar but a little sweeter. It contained corn, watermelon, avocado, red onion and feta cheese with a little more dressing than the cowboy caviar. These two dips contrasted each other very well.
The main course was two bao buns filled with vegan chorizo and chicken. Bao buns are a popular Chinese dish made of flour, yeast, sugar, baking powder, milk and oil. These are rather sweet and definitely a switch up from a traditional college student’s diet.
The first Bao bun was filled with vegan chorizo and topped with cabbage. This one was good, but I felt that the sweetness of the Bao bun overpowered the flavor of what was inside, which was similar to spicy pork.
Next was the plant-based chicken topped with tortilla strips. I really liked this one as it tasted very similar to a taco, but the meat was a little spicy for my liking. I definitely couldn’t have had more than one.
At the end of this food line, students were met with a table filled with free succulents to take to promote this new plant-based and sustainable agenda from Miami’s dining halls.
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Overall this was one of my favorite events Western has hosted. I love to see the dining halls offering healthier, and especially vegan options as many vegan-based students have struggled with finding good choices in the past, even finding meat in food options labeled vegetarian or vegan. I hope these efforts continue and we see meals like this more often in the dining halls next year.