By Marizel Urdiales
Pulse Staff Reporter
With climate change’s impact on the planet, Generation Z is aware of how their food choices affect the environment. Couple that knowledge with the rise of diabetes and obesity, and more people are making a difference in their health and the health of the planet with plant-based selections.
According to Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual: “Populations that eat so-called Western diet—generally defined as a diet consisting of lots of processed foods and meats, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits and whole grains—invariably suffer from high rates of so-called Western diseases: obesity, type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.”
Brianne Hardy, a Palo Alto Vet Tech major, said, “I’m a pesco-pollo vegetarian, mainly due to health issues. There’s certain things I can’t eat, as well as certain things I need to take in. So, I narrowed it down to that…”
At the Palo Alto College cafeteria, menus hang near the food served. Some meals have a green “V,” meaning vegan, or an orange “V” for vegetarian options. For example, the bean burger is vegetarian friendly. Asking for no cheese can make it suitable for vegans.
Ricardo Sauceda, the general manager for the Lancer/Aladdin kitchen staff, explained the kitchen’s perspective. “…We want people to bring up options and have that verbal open communication of the expectation of let’s see what we can work on together,” said Sauceda. The students have to provide the options themselves from the menus listed.
“My cooks will definitely provide what’s necessary if someone has certain needs or wants to try, but if it’s on the menu, we should have the options available. Like if you want to mix something together, that is definitely something we can do. Just make sure it’s products in house and available.”
While eating on campus can be helpful for students who live far, bringing your lunch or snacks from home is an option. This food plan has many benefits, including helping you save money, enjoying meals you have prepared yourself and helping the planet by driving less and lowering your carbon emissions.
Natalia Rivera, a student and a writing tutor at the Writing Assistant Center, said she brings meals from home.
“I find it easier when you cook for yourself and when you bring your own food to places, like when I eat here (on campus),” said Rivera. “When I bring my own food, I feel a lot better about things because I like bringing my own food! And when I go grocery shopping, I’m like, ‘Wow, this is so fun!’ Looking at fruits and stuff.”
Alfredo Torres, Jr., an adjunct professor of Humanities, said, “The cafeteria has a small salad bar, but it’s not variety. As a vegan, I would have to go straight to the salad because the other hot meal options have diary in them.”
With climate change affecting the planet, eating vegan/vegetarian can reduce our carbon footprint and increase our health.