by Ansley McDurmon
Bustling between vats of fried, almost-chicken tofu and chili quinoa, vegan line specialist Ms. Betty considers herself a connoisseur of each Mcclurg menu. A self-described “kinda sorta vegan,” the chef isn’t too food-affected to enjoy the dining hall’s best breakfast item: an egg and cheese breakfast taco. I caught her between shifts downing the panini’s best output, and was met with a sheepish smile. She offered to sit down to answer a few questions about cooking, veganism and Sewanee culture, but only if I promised to try her newest creations.
Beginning with the warning “Don’t call me a vegetarian – I like meat!” Ms. Betty made no bones about her interest in a variety of food. Though she can be found behind the sandwich line as well as in the small vegan kitchen extension, the cook adheres strictly to the Golden Rule of dining service – feed others as you would like to be fed yourself. “I’ll eat off the vegan line when I’m here at work,” she states, “because I know if the kids see me eating it, they’ll be inclined to join in too. I don’t eat just anything.”
Because of dedicated workers like Ms. Betty, McClurg dining has undergone major improvements in the past two years. The food service also expanded its offerings to accommodate the “go green” initiative among college students, many of whom no longer eat meat in order to cut wasted energy and methane emissions.
Sewanee’s quickly expanding interest in all things local and environmentally friendly isn’t the only reason the vegan line has grown; chefs like Ms. Betty, Justin and Cassie serve their growing adherents food as delicious as it is healthy. When asked why she works so hard to make the food stand out, Ms. Betty allowed only a modest response: “I try to keep it healthy, you know. I just can’t make food that isn’t good on the stomach.”
If you find yourself once again drooling over a vegan meal, please stop by the line and let Ms. Betty know how much you appreciate her dedicated, hard work!