University to feature vegetarian, vegan options for ‘meatless Monday’

Written By Alexander Popichak

photo by Dominique Hildebrand
Will Bureau, freshman Musical Theater major, scoops a bowl of fruit salad for dinner on Monday Oct. 12. The dining hall is now offering meatless Mondays, where there will be more vegetarian options offered. 

Point Park’s dining facilities will soon be featuring vegetarian and vegan-friendly options as part of a nationwide meatless Monday movement, and it’s all a response to a student and faculty cooperative initiative.

“I think if you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, you probably just stay away from the dining hall, and you don’t know that these things are there or not,” Natalie Ahwesh said in Village Park Wednesday.

Ahwesh, an adjunct professor who teaches undergraduate math courses, is a vegan and active in the Pittsburgh vegan and animal rights communities. She said that students have spoken with her over the years unsatisfied with the state of vegan and vegetarian offerings in the dining hall.

“If you’re eating all of your meals in the dining hall, you don’t want to have a veggie burger every night for dinner,” Ahwesh said. “It’s really hard for vegan students to live on campus, and most of them move away after their first year. So we decided to set up a meeting with the dining director… he met with me and a couple students who are interested and also a couple of local vegan people that I’m working with on different meatless Monday initiatives throughout the city.”

Ahwesh describes her role as that of a liaison between students and the University. She contacted dining services, but overall says the initiative is “student-led” in presenting research and recipes to the dining services director Doug Hochhauser and Point Park’s head chef.

“The students want more options, but also they want healthier options, so this isn’t just about animal rights, it’s also about health and the environment,” Ahwesh said.

Ahwesh said that there were several students involved in researching and building the presentation to dining services in implementing not only more options generally for vegan and vegetarian students but specifically starting a meatless Monday initiative. Beginning shortly, the dining hall will feature a vegan or vegetarian dish on a biweekly basis.

Two of the students involved were able to present their findings in the meeting with dining services.

“When I was a freshman, at first I was like, ‘It’s not bad, the dining services aren’t bad’ but then it got to the point where  it was so repetitive and the only thing I could eat was the salad bar, and then on Sundays there was no salad bar available to me,” said Mackenzie Link in Academic Hall Thursday. “Coming in as a sophomore, I decided to not even purchase a meal plan.”

Link, a sophomore business management major and vegetarian, said she stumbled upon the movement by accident, but jumped at the opportunity to improve options for vegetarians and vegans alike. By the time she became involved, the research had already been completed but was able to help present it to dining services.

 “[The proposal] showed reasons why to do this [implement meatless Mondays], also that it’s not hard to make vegetarian options and vegan options, overall it just provides a better quality of food and makes more options available. So for people who aren’t vegetarians but want to try something new, it offers new ways of eating,” Link said.

Both Link and Ahwesh hope that the meatless Monday initiative will be embraced by students. 

“I hope it works and that people respond to it well and enjoy it,” Link said.

Dining services did not say when the initiative would be implemented in the dining hall and did not comment prior to the publication deadline.


photo by Dominique Hildebrand
Vegan Fajita Black Bean, not associated with "Meatless Mondays," is a current dish offered at the Vegan/Vegetarian sauté station. Meatless Mondays initiative food can be found on the homeline station during lunch time in the dining hall.