By Garima Prabhakar
Lunch is one of the most important parts of the day for most students—and most of the time, our school cafeteria is more than adequate. With the countless lunch options available—from the seasonal Christmas cookies to yearly valentine’s day cupcakes—Shrewsbury High School really takes the importance of lunch to heart. As a vegetarian, however, the school provides few options for a filling meal; in fact, most of the time I’ll have to settle for greasy pizza with a mountain of cheese, its staggering peaks marinated in slick oil and tomato sauce. Aside from the questionable healthiness of having pizza half the week (with cheese pasta one day and a (delicious) taco salad another), school lunches provide barely any variety for a big and an increasing vegetarian population at our school.
Investing in more vegetarian options at our school would not only be healthier, but it would also be more economically fiscal. Furthermore, aside from more options, many people would benefit from just putting a list of ingredients for each of the items in the school lunches. This would not only help people with diet restrictions become more knowledgeable about what they can and can’t eat, it would help everyone understand what they are eating.
Vegetarian meals provide a healthier alternative for those who need it. With frequent plant-based meals being linked to increased longevity, a lesser probability of being obese, and more likely to be the healthy low-carb and high-fiber diet growing students need, the need for vegetarian options in schools is definitely a must. However, most of the time the only option is pizza (brimful with saturated fats and flushed with high amounts of sodium) with potato fries. Even though our school does above and beyond in incorporating the occasional pasta and healthier taco salad—many times this isn’t enough.
For students with dietary restrictions, healthier plant-based meals could allow them to be able to enjoy vegetarian school lunches every day, instead of three days a week. Moreover, with the increasing hot topic of eliminating obesity-causing foods from the school lunch system to enforce and encourage students to be healthier, having plant-based meal options every day would allow students without dietary restrictions to enjoy vegetarian meals as well.