Vegetarian student praises Pearsons for recent changes

Displayed are some of the ever-expanding vegetarian options available in Pearsons’ dining hall. Photo by Ariana Hansen.
Displayed are some of the ever-expanding vegetarian options available in Pearsons’ dining hall. Photo by Ariana Hansen.

Maryville College students who have been around as long as I have (three years) have witnessed countless changes on this campus. We remember when Anderson was still ancient on the inside, we remember when Highland Grounds was an actual coffee shop (even if it was only open for a few hours a day) and we remember when Pearsons Hall was an entirely different place.

In recent years, renovations and new management have made remarkable improvements to our dining hall. However, it was not until much more recently that vegetarians and vegans were truly satisfied with the changes.

While many aspects of the food served were initially changed when Metz took over, there was still an overwhelming and unavoidable lack of vegetarian food available. I suppose this was no issue for those students who do eat meat on a regular basis.

But for vegetarians like myself, it was hard to embrace new changes with a positive outlook when we still were not satisfied with our options.

In recent months, however, more specifically since the beginning of J-term, Pearsons has been killing it with the vegetarian and vegan options available. Not only are there now daily entrees specifically made vegan, but there are also vegan substitutes that make almost any option in the dining hall available for vegetarian and vegan consumers.

My personal dining experience has been tremendously better than it ever was before since these changes were made. I have never, even in most main stream restaurants, had so many options when going to eat lunch or dinner.

Myself and most other vegetarians have grown too accustomed to settling for the one vegetarian item available regardless of its quality or taste.

In the past, most of us vegetarians and vegans had one go-to item in Pearsons that we ate nearly every day. Some of us stuck to cheese pizza and a salad. Others ate a pile of mixed vegetables and called it a day. This was not healthy.

We wanted so badly to be able to walk into Pearsons and choose from multiple possibilities like everyone else around us. The crazy thing is: we got what we wanted.

Pearsons has brought in new recipes using new ingredients like quinoa and edamame. The chefs have learned how to cook tofu, and they have gotten pretty good at it. They have even started using vegan alternatives to meat like vegan chili and tofurkey when there are options like chili baked potatoes or turkey wraps.

These changes have opened up so many possibilities to students. People who have never considered going vegetarian because of the lack of options now have that opportunity.

Even students who would never consider going full vegetarian can now try some of those things they have never tasted in the past. This is truly a cultural improvement to our campus that everyone can benefit from.

I want every single person in Pearsons who has made this a possibility to know that I am one grateful vegetarian. But more importantly, I want them to know that there are many of us, and we truly appreciate what they’ve done.

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