A guide to going meat-free on a meal plan

Kate Jamison, Senior Staff Reporter

After surviving off of Rally’s burgers and Jimmy John’s sandwiches during Mardi Gras, deciding to give up meat for the 40 days of Lent was a no-brainer. Six straight days of over-processed beef, turkey and chicken was the perfect catalyst to cutting all the meat out of my diet for a little while. Today marks two weeks of eating meat-free on my Sodexo meal plan. It’s been more challenging than I expected it to be, but overall I’m still going strong.

I know that vegetarians, vegans and students who are gluten-free, dairy-free, or have other food allergies often complain about the lack of Sodexo options fitting their dietary needs. After two weeks, I already feel far more sympathy towards them than I ever did previously. Eating at Bruff Commons and other on-campus eateries with dietary restrictions is a challenge, but I’d argue that it is, indeed, possible.  Here are some of the tricks I have learned thus far. 

Do:

1. Plan your meals.

The menus for both Bruff and the Orleans Room are available online via the Uptown Campus Dining website. Give the menu a look-through to decide between dining at Bruff or Luff or to decide if you need to budget time to stand in line at the stir-fry line or pasta line. On Tuesday, I was deciding between Bruff or Luff for lunch and realized that Loyola had a multitude of vegetarian options while Bruff seemed to be lacking that day. You can save yourself time and disappointment by checking in advance. 

2. Take advantage of the pasta, stir-fry and salad bars. 

If you find yourself in Bruff or Luff with nothing to eat, never fear! The custom food lines are sure to come to the rescue. The Bruff salad bar, when properly utilized, can provide a delicious (and nutritious) dining option. I’ve found that using toppings from the salad bar, the vegan grain bar (quinoa), the fruit stand (pomegranate seeds), the yogurt bar (craisins and raisins) and the hummus bar can dress up any boring-old salad into a substantial meal. Additionally, the pasta and stir-fry lines may take some time, but they both offer tons of vegetables and tofu that can give you the protein you need to survive. 

3. Eat at Hillel.

Before I gave up meat, the Cha Cha Chicken sandwich and Xavier Burrito were my go-to choices at Hillel. Recently, I’ve been getting the Scramble Burrito. With a fried egg, black beans, tomato salsa, avocado and rice, the Scramble burrito is filling and delicious. Carly’s breakfast is another great option, featuring wheat toast with smashed avocado, tossed greens and roasted sweet potatoes. As a vegetarian, Hillel never disappoints. It may disappoint your wallet, however. Keep an eye on your Wave Bucks balance, it isn’t cheap to eat this well. 

4. Explore vegetarian options in the LBC

Cafe Spice offers a number of vegan menu options, as does Sushi Nori. Check out their daily menu offerings if you need a quick bite on-the-go. 

Don’t:

1. Eat at Bruff during peak hours.

The stir fry and pasta lines can get pretty lengthy during peak hours at Bruff, and those are often the best option for vegetarians. Avoid Bruff during the lunch and dinner rush to assure you’ll never have to wait too long for your meal. 

2. Order the Byblos Falafel.

Byblos has a number of delicious options, but I was very disappointed by its falafel. Dense and tasteless, the dish certainly wasn’t my favorite preparation of chick peas. Opt for their greek salad instead. 

3. Partake in the Le Gourmet Vegalicious Wrap.

Le Gourmet has a number of great options for vegetarians, including a 100 percent vegetarian salad bar as well as grilled cheese sandwiches that are sure to satisfy. Despite a commitment to health and taste, their Vegalicious wrap was not worth the $7 sticker price. With roasted eggplant, hummus, grilled asparagus, sliced tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms and a garlic-lemon dressing on a wrap, I figured it would be delicious, but I was sadly mistaken. Avoid the Vegalicious and opt for the Emily (wildflower multigrain bread, cheddar, smoked gouda, caramelized onions with a blackberry and mango chutney.)