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Students with dietary restrictions navigate Miami’s on-campus dining options

<p>Students with dietary restrictions struggle to navigate dining at Miami University.</p>

Students with dietary restrictions struggle to navigate dining at Miami University.

Across Miami University’s campus, students with a wide variety of dietary restrictions face difficulty when looking for something to eat at on-campus dining locations. While Miami does offer accommodations for a variety of these restrictions, some students still find it challenging to satisfy both their diets while avoiding certain foods.

Tate Gormley, a first-year nutrition major, had difficulties maintaining her vegetarian diet on Miami’s campus until she started investigating how to get the nutrients she needed.

“It’s good now, but at first it was super hard,” Gormley said. “Miami’s dining halls do have pretty good options, but it is difficult in some ways to get protein if you don’t know what to put in.”

While Miami offers ways to get protein without consuming meat, Gormley said there aren’t many options for actual cooked meals that are vegetarian-friendly. For her, the most important thing someone can do to maintain a vegetarian diet on campus while staying healthy is research.

Many of Miami’s dining halls offer vegetarian options, but when Gormley made her way to Western campus for some tofu, she was met with three different types of chicken instead. 

Gormley said that consistently offering vegetarian and vegan-friendly options on the menu would improve her dining experience at Miami.

“[Miami’s dining halls] should definitely implement a vegan or vegetarian, protein-heavy option every day, all the time because then me and all the other vegetarians or vegans have that option to get a lot of the necessary nutrients,” Gormley said. “Unless you know how to get it, you’re going to be drained.”

If vegetarians and vegans aren’t able to get the nutrients they need, Gormley said there is a potential for them to develop health problems, such as anemia, due to a lack of iron.

Jack Miller, a first-year biology major, is also vegetarian. Miller said Miami has a decent amount of vegetarian-friendly dining options, but there have been some concerns.

“Every real issue I’ve ever had being vegetarian is sometimes they mix up orders,” Miller said. “I’d order a vegetarian burrito, and for some reason, when I pick it up, it’s beef.”

Miller said that most on-campus dining locations have vegetarian-friendly options, such as impossible burgers, beans, rice and more.

While Miami does have options, Miller said that paying attention to and being mindful of what he eats throughout the day is important.

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“I have to think about what I’m exactly putting in [my body], so I can feel good and well rested,” Miller said. “When I don’t actively think about those I can notice that I don’t feel as well throughout the day.”

In the future, Miller hopes Miami will provide more vegetarian-friendly breakfast options that contain more necessary nutrients.

Libby OToole, a sophomore marketing major, has celiac disease, which limits her food options to things without gluten. OToole said Miami offers many gluten-free options, such as items from Chubby Bunny Bakery and Clean Plate, but with some dining halls, there is a risk of cross-contamination. While OToole has had difficulties in the past, they haven’t been due to a lack of gluten-free options.

“Maybe I had a class that ran late and the dining hall closed, so I either had to eat snack food for dinner or if I didn’t have anything in my dorm, I would have to find something in the vending machine, which typically is an unhealthy option,” OToole said.

OToole said keeping on-campus dining locations open later could help students with dietary restrictions get the nutrients they need while maintaining their diets.

“Keeping the dining halls open a little bit later [would help] because, for students with dietary restrictions, that is kind of the only option,” OToole said, “at least for people with strict dietary restrictions.”