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Friday’s flavor: Soy happy to be a vegetarian

From Leonardo da Vinci to Dustin Hoffman, more and more people are adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. This may be due to an increase in research that has spread awareness of the benefits in vegetarianism.

The American Dietetic Association agrees vegetarians have lower risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes and obesity. Vegetarians are less likely to develop other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, and have stronger immune systems.

A common question from meat-eater to veggie-lover is, “so what do you eat?” A balanced vegetarian diet includes whole grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.

There are different types of vegetarians – vegans omit all animal products from their diets as well as daily living (i.e. no wool, leather, etc); total vegetarians eat only plant food; lacto-vegetarians include dairy products into their diet of plant food; lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat both eggs and dairy products; and pesco-vegetarians include fish into their diets.

Vegetarians must include adequate protein, zinc, vitamin B12 and calcium into their daily diets.

It can be difficult for college vegetarians to meet their nutrition needs while relying on the cafeterias to supply meals. Most colleges and universities have become aware of diverse diets, and are trying to accommodate individual needs. Lucky for us, Bradley is one of those universities.

Food Services at Bradley provides enough healthy options for vegetarian students to maintain a balanced diet. Center Court, Cafe Bradley and the Geisert cafeteria include veggie burgers on their menus daily. Veggie burgers act as a significant source of protein.

Williams Hall, Geisert Hall, and the Michel Student Center cafeteria also have a daily salad bar often including seeds, beans, cheese and tofu also containing protein.

Yet, Bradley’s greatest gift to vegetarian students is Geisert cafeteria. In addition to daily veggie burgers, Geisert always offers a meat substitute choice such as vegetarian corn dogs or tofu stir-fry.

Roxy Hucko, a freshman and five-year vegetarian said, “I like the tofu fajitas!”

Also offered are several soy products such as soymilk, soy cheese, soy pudding and soy ice creams. Many soy products allow vegetarians to meet their protein plus vitamin and mineral needs.

Geisert cafeteria is accommodating to all diet-types and takes requests into serious consideration. On the Bradley Web site in the A-Z index, click on Food Services. There is a feedback button available to anyone who wants to make a request.

As great as a vegetarian diet is, there are some things to be aware of. For instance, the possible lack of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 – which is commonly found in animal products.

It’s difficult on a college campus to always eat nutritiously, but if you’re going to make the transition from meat-eater to veg-head, then you have to be aware of what you could be missing out on. Although a junk food diet is essentially vegetarian, it’s not healthy.

A balanced vegetarian diet consists of beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which again, calls for careful planning on a college campus; therefore, taking a daily multivitamin or eating fortified foods (i.e. breakfast cereals, breakfast bars, soy milk, etc) are good options.

Restaurants are also aware of the rise in vegetarianism, and have added many vegetarian options to their menus.

One World on Main Street has about a 50/50 ratio of veggie and meat options. Bradley vegetarians can also explore the numerous meatless pasta, pizza and salad options available in the restaurants of campus town.

Many may think it is hard to become vegetarian due to limited options, when in reality, vegetarians have access to just as much variety.

An easy place college vegetarians can practice their diet skills are at home. This holiday, instead of filling up your plate with turkey and ham, try to incorporate many great seasonal vegetable dishes, and possibly even some Tofurky, too.

Visit for great vegetarian and vegan recipes.

Friday’s flavor is edited for accuracy by Jeanette Davidson, a registered dietician.

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