Recent diet trends prompt changes in dining services

Angela Ratzlaff, Staff Writer
April 1, 2012
Filed under News

Rising popularity in specialty diets have prompted many restaurants, including Cal State Long Beach’s eateries, to revise menus and offer more options for those with restrictive diets.

Students with vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free diets can look forward to eating on campus more often as the CSULB Dining Services may make changes to its menu options.

Dining Services is set to offer more food options for those with dietary restrictions as well as display clear menus that can help students decide what fits their diet.

Vegan and vegetarian diets have become more popular as meat eating has decreased by 12.2 percent since 2007, according to an article in the New York Times.

Generally, vegetarians cannot eat meat, but are still able to eat dairy and other animal byproducts. However, vegans cannot eat meat, dairy or any other animal products, such as honey.

More individuals have also become gluten intolerant or have been diagnosed with celiac disease, which means they are unable to digest wheat products and certain grains found in many food products such as flour, oats and barley.

According to the New York Times, a recent study found one in 100 individuals is diagnosed with celiac disease, as opposed to 50 years ago when four times less were diagnosed with the condition.

“It’s a growing trend, and we will be updating our menu boards across all the locations over the summer for next fall,” said Dining Services Manager Melissa Devan.

Currently, students can ask for gluten-free options upon request when eating at the dining halls or at different locations on campus.

According to Devan, not all restaurants on campus prepare gluten-free food or have gluten-free products, but the goal is to have all eateries equipped with such products by the next school year.

Freshman psychology major Dominique Nahagil enjoys the idea of campus restaurants having more options.

“I’m a vegetarian myself,” she said. “I just want to eat food without worrying about if it was fried in lard.”

Other students have to bring their food to campus in order to avoid sudden allergic reactions.

“I know a few people who can’t eat gluten and bring their own food,” junior interior design major Katie Jones said.

More than two years ago, campus-wide surveys allowed for the Dining Services and 49er Shops to calculate what students had more of a taste for.

“Although students ranked healthy foods high, our numbers showed that they often went for the comfort foods,” said director of communications at the 49er Shops Rosa Hernandez-Henderson via email.

Because the surveys were conducted so long ago, they might not be so relevant and the demand may have changed, Hernandez-Henderson said. Now students seem to favor a change in food choices, even if they do not have restricted diets.

“More availability would be nice,” junior kinesiology major Aaron Capitulo said. “I get tired of eating the same thing.”

 

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