Veganism and vegetarianism are becoming increasingly popular in Education City with the constant diversification of students, faculty and staff. Being a vegan or vegetarian means a lot to many individuals around EC, and some students say living such a lifestyle makes them feel “healthier and happier.” Unfortunately, many students struggle to fulfill their dream of veganism due to the hardships of finding suitable foods on a day-to-day basis.
Students can sometimes spend their entire day on campus or even stay overnight, which means they need to be able to obtain three full meals fitting their dietary needs. Cade Aguda, a Northwestern University in Qatar freshman and vegan who lives in HBKU student housing, says there are good options for vegan and vegetarian students in the dorm dining halls. However, he says he wishes there were more dairy alternatives.
Natasha Das, also a NU-Q freshman, is a vegetarian student who says “vegetarian food options in Education City are either unhealthy, such as pastas for example, or really plain like a salad.” She says this defeats her purpose of adopting the vegetarian lifestyle.
Hana El Leithy, a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, has a completely different perspective on veganism. She comes from an Egyptian community, which she says makes her veganism quite unusual. El Leithy says she has always been interested in health and exercise and when the idea of turning vegan came up, her curiosity and determination committed her to the vegan lifestyle. “We’re eating chemicals and hormones,” El Leithy says. “I’m not against meat, but in this day and age, production and processing are just insane. So, if I had my own little farm, maybe I’ll have meat.”
But for the time being, El Leithy says veganism encourages her to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. She advises people trying to sustain this lifestyle not to be so harsh on themselves, and from time to time, allow themselves indulge in a vegetarian meal instead.
Rahaf Khalid, a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar,says she thinks the vegetarian food options on her campus are quite decent, ranging from vegetable stews and baked potatoes to an entire salad bar. It allows for a balanced, varied diet on a daily basis.
Shannon Chen, a vegetarian freshman at Georgetown University in Qatar, says being a vegetarian means that she gains more than she gives up. “Many people may think that this is about giving up meat and therefore a lot of delicious meals, but to me it is having a more comfortable life,” she says, adding, however, that she wishes there were more vegetarian options at GU-Q and that her options around Education City are very limited. “If there are more options for vegetarians that would be great. But I understand that there is only a small number of us,” she says.
However, Chen says she is quite pleased with the food options at the Student Center. She says a restaurant like Zaatar w Zeit, which has vegetarian wraps, is appealing.
From time to time, you might notice pop-up food stands in the Student Center and on your university campuses, which aim to widen the horizon of food options and constantly bring fresh ideas to the table. Kay Torren, an employer at Evergreen pop-up stand in the Student Center, says “our concept is just making sure our food is a hundred percent vegan and plant based and to minimize the use of plastic.”
“We make sure that we have different vegetarian meals every day and not repeat them, it is mandatory. All our meals are labeled so the people can choose based on their requirements” says Pascale Richa, the senior supervisor of food and nutrition at Qatar Foundation. But she added that due to current low demand, “even vegans will have options but maybe not as varied on a daily basis.”
But as the number of vegans and vegetarians continues to grow at EC, students can expect more options in the coming years.