Millennials are leading a movement: the rise of plant-based eating. Veganism and vegetarianism are on the rise both in the United States and worldwide. However, it isn’t always easy to eat plant-based as a college student in a state that drives the cattle industry.
Photo Story by Simone Corprew
College students living on campuses like Texas State often find it difficult to maintain a vegan or vegetarian diet with limited options.
Sophomore Natalie Quintero-Flores lives on campus as a Resident Assistant and has been a vegetarian for about 4 months. For many students like Natalie who live and eat on campus, plant based diets can be challenging.
Natalie originally became a vegetarian for environmental reasons, but said she has noticed a better quality of life since her switch. Many of her friends do not have plant based diets and therefore have many more options for on campus dining than she does.
Quintero-Flores said that being a vegetarian on campus can be a challenge, but newer dining options like Rooted, located in The Den, make it a little bit easier.
For students who live on campus and don’t have access to a kitchen, vegetables can be a rarity. Because vegetarians and vegans get most of their protein from things like nuts, beans, and whole grains, it is vital to have fresh and healthy options available.
The recent uptick in vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurants in San Marcos makes it easier for college students to maintain their dietary choices. Although many restaurants have “vegetarian” options like salads or pastas, students say it is helpful to have restaurants with specific menus for vegan and vegetarian lifestyles in order to add variety to their diet.
The Buzz Mill and Earth Burger are among the new San Marcos eateries that offer vegan and vegetarian options.
Sophomore Hannah Wisterman said that since moving off campus being a vegetarian has become easier because she can now cook for herself. Because fresh vegetables weren’t a very common option on campus, Wisterman said many of her vegan and vegetarian friends ate boxed meals from the grocery store.
The Buzz Mill offers vegan and vegetarian friendly meat alternatives like these wings.
Wisterman says that the hardest part of maintaining a vegetarian diet is the comfort foods she can’t replace such as her Grandma’s gumbo. She eats meat about once or twice a month, but said it isn’t hard to eat vegetarian on a day to day basis.
The main difference between these “wings” and true chicken wings is what Wisterman describes as a “planty flavor”. However, they hold texture like normal chicken wings and can be a great alternative for someone who is switching to a plant-based diet.
Earth Burger with Xzavyon Davenport by Chelyse Prevost
Which is the best? A comparison of three vegetarian food options.
A photo story by Addison McKissack
Vegetarian and vegan food options are becoming easier and easier to find. That begs the question, which option is the best and are they good enough to help convince someone who isn’t a vegetarian to give up meat?
I asked three longtime vegetarians for their favorite spots to get vegetarian-friendly food and took Texas State junior Zoe Gassman to try them out to see if they could make her want to be a vegetarian. Gassman decided to give each meal a score out of 10.
Earth Burger’s Chik’n Tender Basket were recommended by Jennifer Munson who has been vegetarian for the past five months. She likes Earth Burger because it’s an easy way to get good vegetarian food fast.”
“I like them, but they need the sauce for me to know that they’re not real chicken,” Gassman said. “I’d give them a 7/10 because they’re really good, they just need sauce.”
Next up was Jo’s Cafe on Hutchinson recommended by Erin Sewell who has been vegetarian for the past year. Jo’s has many affordable vegetarian and vegan food and drink options.
Gassman got a breakfast taco with sweet potato, grilled seasonal vegetables and avocado on a wheat tortilla, and a pumpkin spice latte with almond milk, making this an entirely vegan meal. The meal came out to $8.50 with tax.
“This was fantastic, the taco was well flavored and it was cooked really well,” Gassman said. “It’s a great deal and delicious, 9/10.”
Finally was Buzz Mill, known for their vegetarian and vegan menu items, Hannah Wisterman, a vegetarian for the past year and a half, eats here often.
“It’s really flavorful and fun instead of more boring vegetarian options other places have,” Wisterman said. One of the vegan options was the Plow Burger, a classic burger with a Beyond Meat Patty and a side of fries.
This was the biggest meal in comparison, and was the most expensive, costing $10. A price that Gassman said isn’t worth it. “It’s a lot of food, but it tastes weirdly fruity and there’s something off about it,” Gassman said. “5.5/10.”
The Plow Burger wasn’t Gassman’s favorite, but she thought that it was a “good replacement if you are vegetarian or vegan, I would just know if something was off if someone gave this to me and said ‘this is a regular burger.’”
With San Marcos growing the way it is, it must push itself to cater to all types of people that come here. This includes people who’s diets seem to be a little different than the normal diet. Though there are options, it is very limited. The vegan and vegetarian community in San Marcos are constantly having to jump through hoops to cater to their dietary lifestyles.
Photo Story By Ashley Brown
Logan Mcilveen, a local vegetarian, showed me how he usually bakes his plant based dinners in oven for 10 minutes to refrain from cross contamination in the microwave.
Logan Mcilveen, a local vegetarian, prepares his dinners for the week through a meal prepping plan. He preps all of his meals on Sunday and stores them away for the week so he does not have to worry about finding food for himself later in the week.
Shopping in fresh produce places like HEB or farmers markets, provide the vegetarian and vegan community with options to eat food similar to a regular omnivore diet. However, Megan Gardner, a local vegan, says , “While HEB does have a section for meat substitutes, I have yet to find vegan cheese, sour cream, and specific meat substitutions that I usually find back home.”
HEB has a frozen food aisle full of options for non meat eaters to find substitutes for themselves. Here they can find meatless burgers, meatless taco meat, and meatless chick’n fingers.
Megan Gardner, a local vegan says she finds her freshest produce at HEB. If she can’t find a plant based patty, she can go to HEB and buy the ingredients she needs, to make it for herself.
HEB strives to give all people of all different eating backgrounds access to their food preferences for an affordable price, according to HEB employee, Franklin Davis.
Buzzmill is one of the few places in San Marcos that has a portion of their menu dedicated to vegans or vegetarians specifically. Autumn Senkyrik, a local vegetarian, says “Being vegetarian at a restaurant is more expensive but that’s any healthier option I guess.”
Earth Burger is a plant based restaurant that opened up in San Marcos just this past summer. This restaurant added itself to the short list of options for the vegan and vegetarian community.
Earth Burger provides variety for it’s customers including everything from fishless sandwiches, non dairy desserts, to meatless sandwiches.