A food truck parked outside the Curris Center with free vegetarian tacos, faux tuna salad and faux chicken attracted many students Monday, providing them with food both die-hard carnivores and vegetarians could enjoy.
Brought to campus by Dining Services and Racer Hospitality and offered by Atlantic Natural Foods, the food is a part of a brand called Meatless Select, which sells meat-free alternatives.
Dining Services brought the company to campus to test out student reactions to the vegetarian options. Paula Amols, director of Dining Services and Racer Hospitality, said she would potentially like to bring the food to campus permanently in the fall semester.
“We made arrangements for them to come here and to give out samples to see if students really like it,” Amols said. “We can start carrying some of these products at Fast Track and the taco filling we can use on taco day at the (Thoroughbred Room).”
Amols said the first rush of students gave all positive reviews.
She said she was happy to see students’ positive reactions to the samples.
Allison Crawford, senior from Murray, said the taco she tried was delicious and looked just like meat despite being a soy product.
Crawford said she has always tried to eat less meat, and believes including vegetarian-friendly foods are important.
“I think it’s important that Murray State increases its options of meatless meals, and I’m proud of them for that and I love our Dining Services,” Crawford said.
Offering Fishless Tuna, Chik’n Sliders, Chik’n Patties, Five Bean Chili and Vegetarian Taco Filling can help bring new options to vegetarian students.
While the meat-free foods are focused on a vegetarian diet, the products are not just for vegetarians. They contain lower fat and calories, are made from soy or wheat and a source of protein.
“We have the vegetarian options every day at the T-Room and Winslow (Dining Hall),” Amols said. “We’re trying to find more gluten-free, and some of the food would work. Right now there doesn’t seem to be a huge demand for vegetarian, but even though we offer a good amount of stuff, they’re always looking for more.”
Amols said Dining Services is looking to bring better quality vegetarian options. She said the addition of Gardein, another meat-free food line, has improved selections, but the Meatless Select can only make options better.
She said she hopes people will want to eat the food because they believe it is good, not solely because it is vegetarian.
Tai Collins, junior from Memphis, Tenn., had a soft taco, and said she couldn’t tell much of a difference between a regular meat taco and the meat-free taco.
Collins said she would eat the meat-free foods if provided by Dining Services, but isn’t sure if other students would.
“I think people are more stuck on the fact that it is a vegetarian taco, and they won’t give it a chance,” Collins said. “I feel like if they replace regular meat with it for a day, people wouldn’t know the difference.”
As a former Winslow employee, Collins said she has seen how options for vegetarians can be slim, but believes the more options available for them, the better.
“The vegetarian menu is limited,” she said. “More options would be great.”
Story by Mary Bradley, Staff writer