Opening Day at UNT's Vegan Cafeteria: Greens Aren't Mean
The healthiest sandwich I have ever eaten.
A couple weeks back we told you Mean Greens, UNT's sparkly new all-vegan joint, is set to open in a couple weeks. Well friends, that day was Monday, and thanks to some subtle snark from the previous post that resulted in a challenge from a commenter, I felt it necessary to make my way to Maple Hall and give Mean Greens the ol' college try.
Upon walking through the doors, you're immediately greeted by a waterfall and a big shiny Buddha, both welcome decor for soon-to-be stressed students. The walls, hip and colorful, bear pictures of fruits, vegetables and nuts with lovely words like "Purify", "Energy" and "Strength" strewn across them. A picture of Gandhi, too. Behind me, six dudes in workout clothes line up with their school ID's. The student employee swipes them in rapid fire succession -- takes no more than six seconds, one second per ID.
"Remind everyone that it's all-vegan!" his manager yells out, leading me to think they've had a few surprised carnivores come by earlier. I lack a meal plan, so it cost me $6.50, and my credit card backs up the line. It's a good thing vegans are so patient.
I end up getting three courses, with the final tally looking like this:
Course 2 Cinnamon Toast Crunch with soy milk Soy milk
Course 3 Panini with mushroom, onion, bell pepper, tomato and hummus Sprite
Listen, I'm not Scott Reitz. I'm not here to critique everything I ate. Admittedly, my meat-loving palate isn't even sophisticated enough to do so. But I can say that save for a couscous that I just wasn't diggin' too much, I enjoyed everything. The selection was fantastic and far more diverse than just lettuce and carrots.
The grilled vegan panini was the high point. Truly "grilled to perfection," my dad would say. Plus the hummus tasted fantastic, as hummus often tends to do. While ordering it however, a reporter from NBC5i showed up out of nowhere and filmed me doing a little reporting of my own. Feeling used and exploited, I snapped a photo of her. Eye for an eye.
At noon, "One Headlight" by The Wallflowers is playing, and nearly every table is filled with students or faculty alike, most eating sushi (yes, they can), grilled sandwiches and whole ears of corn. Three incoming freshman, all of whom just met one another for the first time, come by and ask if they can sit with me. No one from the trio is vegan or vegetarian. "I am gluten-free," one with a plate full of pasta and a salad says. "Can you guys come with me to get some greasy food after this?" her newfound comrade asks.
Bill McNeace, the executive director of UNT Dining Services, paces through Mean Greens with a satisfied smile on his face. He likes the turnout.
"From our point of view, the responses we've been getting so far today have been very good," McNeace said. "The real indicator though is this: When non-vegans come in, can they leave satisfied?"
One non-vegan here, satisfied with my unnecessarily large three-courser at Mean Greens.
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