Before the new vegan line came into effect, I never gave the Connection Cafe a second glance. From my lackluster experience at my freshman orientation, I knew the options would be too limited to be worth my time or money. Luckily, things have changed immensely since I first came to UT Arlington.
Thanks to the collaborative efforts of several student organizations, Student Congress and Dining Services, vegan food at the cafe has become more visible and available with this semester’s implementation of the new vegan line–check out this roundup of vegan meals from the cafe. I’ve been hearing mixed reviews about the food, so I decided to experience the changes for myself.
A couple weeks ago, I visited the vegan line, feeling both wary and excited to see what options they had to offer. The lunch menu that day sounded promising: almond jasmine rice, chickpea curry and apple coleslaw. There were a few students in line before me, so I had to wait several minutes for their food to cook. Students get to customize their meal by adding the spices themselves during the cooking process.
When I got to the front, a tantalizing aroma of apples being stirfried with onions met my nose. I have never thought of using that combination in curry before, so I made a mental note to replicate the dish at home. The friendly attitude of the chef, Effie Herones, instantly brightened my day. As she prepared the curry, Effie cheerfully asked me how my day was.
Amused at my camera’s constant clicking, she asked if I was working on a project. I introduced myself, told her about the Broccoli Bulletin, and chatted with her about her experience with making food for the vegan line. “I actually like it very much. I used to do vegetarian cooking, so this isn’t too much of a challenge at all. It’s fun! Students seem to like it, too.” she told me.
Interdisciplinary Studies junior William Addington is an omnivore but he enjoys eating at the vegan line because of its variety. “Sometimes it’s hit and miss, but most of the time the dishes at this line are great.” said Addington. “I think our society puts too much emphasis on the idea of a meal being just the standard meat and potatoes. I used to think vegan food was strange, but after trying it, I like it a lot. I eat it more often now and I’ve really broadened my culinary horizons. This food is also doing a favor for my health!”
Once my curry was done cooking, Effie graciously handed me my plate and I expressed my appreciation. She warmed my heart with her response: “Well, we appreciate you!” I beamed and asked her for permission to use her picture in my blog post. She agreed, on the condition that I print her a copy of the post. At this point, I just wanted to give her a hug, honestly, but the counter was in the way, and I had a plate to hold. I picked up some chips, hummus and salsa on the way to my seat and was satisfied.
From my first experience with the vegan line, I found that the food was both filling and tasty, and the staff was outstanding, needless to say. I came back in a couple of days to have lunch with my cousin, and tried the three bean chili.
While there are still some kinks to be worked out, including the addition of ingredient labels, Dining Services has done an amazing job with responding to the needs of UT Arlington’s students. The progress has been amazing. I wholeheartedly appreciate the staff’s accommodation, and I look forward to trying more dishes at Connection Cafe in the future.
If you get a chance, I highly recommend visiting the vegan line and checking out the food. You don’t have to be vegan to try something new. The menu is available online if you want to see what’s being offered before you go. Tell Effie I sent you, and feel free to thank the wonderful staff for their hard work, dedication and hospitality.
For those interested: Dining Services is hosting a meeting to get feedback from students on Wednesday, November 14th, at 3:00 p.m. in the Connections Cafe.