What’s Really in the Mystery ‘Meat’ at Northrop-Gillett

McKenna Eckerline ‘18
Contributing Writer

Northrop-Gillett is known across campus as a culinary safehaven for vegetarians, vegans and veggie-fanatics alike. Amidst all the chaos, stress and excitement of college, vegheads know that they can grab a meal at either of these houses without having to worry about whether their food contains animal products. However, many Smithies raise an eyebrow when they walk into the dining room to find suspicious meaty-looking “Chix Veggie Cutlets” in the buffet’s entrée section. Most meat-substitutes served at Northrop-Gillett look at least a little different from the real thing, and diners can often infer what some of the ingredients in foods like Lentil Patties or Avocado Burger are. Deciphering the components of these cutlets, however, is a different story.

The dining app did not help me find the cutlets’ ingredients, and neither did a Google search.  Initially, I thought the cutlets were from the popular mock meat company Quorn. Their product contains eggs, so at first I thought Gillett had played me. But then I realized that the chik’n might be from Gardein, a vegan faux meat company, but Gardein carries patties — not cutlets. I finally found the little buggers listed under Meal Mart on Alle Processing’s website, but they were still without nutrition facts!

After an impressive chain of phone calls, I found that Gillett’s own Tim Zima knew where to find these sought-after ingredients. Zima said that Smith has been serving the cutlets across campus for as long as he has been here — five or six years. Smith actually serves two different brands of cutlets with the same name and appearance, so while the labels block the ingredients on one brand’s packaging, the ingredients on the other are: water, soy protein concentrate, wheat gluten, cornmeal, breadcrumbs (wheat flour, sugar, salt, paprika), onion powder, garlic powder, soy oil, natural spices, tapioca starch, chickpea powder, cellulose gum and carrageenan.

Of course, there are so many other Smith dining favorites whose ingredients Smithies do not have direct access to. I admire that Smith dining keeps food simple and unprocessed for the most part, but this goes to show how important ingredients can be to diners. Smith currently lists select menu items’ ingredients on the Smith Dining app and website, but perhaps, in the future, Dining Services can supply a more comprehensive list of ingredients. For now I hope I have cleared up any uncertainty or anxiety that my fellow vegheads here at Smith have had surrounding this pesky entrée. Munch on, my friends. There is no meat in these babies!

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