THE number of people with a food allergy or intolerance has almost doubled in the last 20 years. In Ireland alone, 28% of people have an allergy to something whether it be nuts, soy, gluten, dust or pollen. In addition to the increase of allergies, more people are taking the path to healthier eating by going vegetarian and vegan. Since the number of people with dietary restrictions has increased, the question becomes what does UCD have to offer these people in terms of food on campus.
Stephanie Ní Osin, a student in UCD, has a severe peanut allergy. Regarding food on campus she said “they’re quite good in UCD about the nut allergy, but in [Pi Restaurant] I saw they used pesto on their chicken and I’ve been wary of going there since. The SU shop also tend to throw all the pastries on top of each other including almond and pecan ones with things that don’t have nuts in them which means I can’t have anything from there.”
All restaurants in UCD contain an allergen list but this doesn’t change the fact that some food practices on campus make food unsafe to eat for students with these allergies.
Rory MacCabe, another student, is a vegetarian. He said that “the vegetarian stuff on campus is pretty limited if you want to eat properly, if you want a vegetarian meal other than just making do with a bag of crisps and a banana, you mostly have to go for the pricey options like ordering a Subway without any meat, or some hot food from the global lounge. These kinds of options get pricey, fast.”
What is available for those with dietary restrictions? The SU shop stocks four sandwiches that are gluten-free, however they are not that varied and may not suit every taste. As they tend to be, gluten-free sandwiches are quite small and there are no hot gluten free sandwiches.
In terms of vegetarian options there is a relatively wide variety. Vegetarian lasagne, quiche, soups, sandwiches, and 7 of the 9 items in the salad bar are vegetarian, along with two vegetarian options at Subway that won’t break the bank at €4.00 (with a drink). The queue on the other hand tends to be quite long, so Subway won’t be your top choice if you are in a hurry.
While UCD does have a few decent options for those with a food restriction, there is no doubt that it could be much better. Staff at UCD are more than willing to assist those with a dietary restriction so don’t be afraid to ask.