Chakraborty: More lean protein please

As hardworking college students with long days that are full of classes and work, there are a few things we can look forward to. One of these is central to every Case Western Reserve University student’s life: good food. And we owe gratitude to Bon Appétit for this. Our dining halls fuel our success by providing adequate nutrition.

Still there is one glaring deficiency—the types and variety of proteins served. There is a bounty of pork dishes readily available, often beef, but rarely any chicken or white meat. As someone who tries not to consume pork or beef due to health reasons, I would appreciate if there were more lean protein options apart from the tofu served seemingly every day.

I also know many fellow students are unable to eat either pork or beef for religious or cultural reasons and having these dishes served so often in dining halls seriously limits their options. I’m sure vegetarians, vegans and others who are choosy about what they eat have a difficult time with the lack of proteins available at times: There is only so much red meat or tofu one can eat. Constant repetition of choices can cause gradual disillusionment of the dining hall, making the consumption of essential food types, like protein, even harder.

This is especially a problem since protein is such an integral component of a nutritious diet, helping support proper metabolism, as well as growth and development of bones and tissues. In one serving of a lean protein source like chicken, you can get more than half of the daily protein recommendation of the average person.

I don’t expect anyone to take extreme measures in accommodating special requests, but having more chicken and perhaps occasionally fish and vegetarian offerings doesn’t seem to be too much of an overbearing or expensive option to ask for. There is a glut of red meat and processed meats readily available to students while lower fat or fresh grilled white meat is harder to come by.

The downsides to red meats include that they are high in saturated fats and, in particular, the cuts served tend to be very fatty; what is served is not ideal for consumption on a daily basis. It should be easy enough to reduce the volume of hotdogs and cheeseburgers to introduce more chicken, turkey and veggie burgers, which would benefit college students by being healthier as well. This way the pork and beef aficionados can enjoy their choice meats on certain days, while others who may not be able to eat these do not have to resort to a sad salad and miss out on necessary dosages of protein.

As college students that are obligated to purchase a meal plan and have sparse free time, it can seem daunting to eat healthy and make better choices during meals. Dining halls can help with this to an extent by having varied proteins available.

Bon Appétit has been doing a good job providing overall fresh, nutritious food: Many of their offerings support local farms and there are definitely healthy items available. However they can surely implement some changes to accommodate more lean, diverse protein options. It’s time to dole out more chicken, fish, lentils and turkey and more importantly, contribute to a wholesome and balanced diet.

Ankita Chakraborty is a second-year student majoring in biology and minoring in psychology