Although vegan and vegetarian diets are becoming more and more popular, there are still challenges that come with a diet change, whether it be a minor tweak or a complete overhaul. Chartwells, Harding’s food service provider, has sought ways to accommodate these dietary restrictions.
Chartwells is aware of the growing need for vegan and vegetarian food options as these plant-based diets grow in popularity. In a 2019 article on chartwellshighered.com regarding plant-based, pop-up stations, Chartwells Higher Education Vice President of Sustainability and Culinary Services Laura Lapp explained the steps that are being taken to meet those diet-specific needs.
“Over the past year our plant-based options have increased in popularity by over 30%,” Lapp said. “While we have a growing number of vegan and vegetarian menu items available to our culinarians, we sought further opportunities to educate and offer these dishes to our guests through small, intimate pop-up experiences.”
Tammy Hall, vice president for finance and Chief Financial Officer at Harding, announced the change in dining services to students via email earlier this year on March 25. She said that the committee that made this decision to move on to Chartwells did their homework and is excited for the future.
“After thorough review of our evaluations and numerous discussions, the committee awarded highest marks to Chartwells, a division of Compass (chartwellshighered.com) and they will become our new dining services vendor,” Hall said. “Other schools we spoke with that utilize Chartwells are extremely satisfied with their service and offerings.”
Professor of English and Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Dr. Katherine Dillion acknowledged the challenges that come to many with a plant-based diet.
“It’s challenging in two ways,” Dillion said. “One in that you have to get used to what kinds of things that you want to eat, and then even if you’ve gotten used to that, you have to get used to where to find those things when you’re out with others.”
However, for many who choose a vegan or vegetarian diet on campus, such as sophomore Halle Miller, the obstacles are worth it.
“Being at college sometimes means that I have to get creative, and I don’t have everything available like I do at home,” Miller said. “But, it is definitely worth it.”
Miller said there has been more consistency with vegetarian food options in the cafeteria this year, and she is appreciative of that.
“I don’t like to add extra work for the caf workers because I know that they are already so busy, so I really appreciate it when there are already vegetarian options out,” Miller said.
Miller said despite the occasional challenges, she would encourage anyone to try adopting a vegetarian diet — even if for a week — because it is worth the extra work.