COLUMN: Battle of the Universities: Who Has Better Vegetarian Options?


Sophia Maxim

Illustration by Sophia Maxim

Veronica Offner, Assistant Life & Times Editor

With about 10% of Americans identifying as vegetarian, eating only plants is an increasingly common way of life. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 11 years old, and with the return of reciprocal dining between Tulane and Loyola, I checked out the availability of options for students like me.
Both Loyola and Tulane use the same distributor, Sodexo, so I assumed the options would be relatively the same. Ultimately, I found both positives and negatives in dining at both universities.
I first went to the Orleans Room, located in the Danna Center, to see their vegetarian selections. The OR offered a nice selection of options. Out of the 27 dishes offered, there were nine that were either vegetarian or vegan. In addition to a marked “plant-based” section, there were solid options offered at every station. Although the majority of the vegetarian options were sides and (roasted vegetables, baked potatoes, rice), main dish/protein options were available. The Orleans Room also offered an extensive salad bar. The bar includes lots of fresh vegetables, but what I was most surprised by was the vegetarian and vegan protein available. Towards the end of the line, I found tofu, beans, and chickpeas.
The next day, I visited The Commons on Tulane’s campus. Out of their 35 offerings, 19 were vegetarian or vegan. The options offered at Tulane were side dishes as opposed to the options at Loyola, so it was harder to build a substantial plate of food. But The Commons had a salad bar, as well as an avocado toast station, which consisted of bread, avocado spread, and various vegetable toppings.
There were pros and cons to each dining location. For example, although “reciprocal dining” may lead students to believe that Loyola meal swipes can be used at Tulane, the reality is that the Tulane dining system only accepts Loyola Wolf Bucks. The cost of a meal at Tulane is $17, which is a steep price to pay, considering the price of meals that charge Wolf Bucks at Loyola, like Subway or sushi from the market.
Despite the steep cost, this price might be worth it to some vegetarian or vegan students. The higher availability of vegetarian and vegan meals at Tulane is a potential appeal that may make the price of entry worth it. But, the price is not the only deterrent to Tulane’s dining. Walking to Tulane for a meal can oftentimes be inconvenient, especially when The Commons has a tendency to get crowded around meal times.
The Orleans Room has the major con of not only lacking a large quantity of vegetarian and vegan meals but also lacking variety in general. Often, during meal times, the vegan and vegetarian options remain the same, day after day. But this is a problem that can be assisted by the convenience of the food court, located near the Orleans Room, in the Danna Center. Convenience in general is the main appeal of the Orleans Room for Loyola students. The Orleans Room takes meal swipes, which is a part of the meal plans that many first and second-year students are required to have. Along with that, it is located in the heart of campus, making it easily accessible for students living on campus and students who commute and are looking for a place to eat while they’re on campus for class.
Overall, both dining options have their drawbacks and their advantages, and the decision to eat at either Tulane or Loyola is completely dependent on what each student individually values.