Humber students say religion ignored in food options

Nov 3, 2023 | Campus News, News

Sukhman Pandher, a Humber student, said she forcefully had to eat chicken when she was hungry as no other option was available.

A Hindu vegetarian in her home country in India, Pandher ate chicken to ensure she had something to fill her stomach.

“There is no food in Canada without chicken,” Pandher said.

She said all the quality food options contain chicken and those that don’t are unappealing.

Humber Hindu and Sikh international students from India struggle to find satisfying food options as almost every food item available is irreligious for them to eat.

They abstain from eating beef because cows are considered sacred and worshiped in their religion.

Many Muslims also need to ensure that the chicken they consume is Halal.

A study by Sutama Ghosh and published by The Canadian Geographer mentions many Indian students skip meals due to limited options from the absence of religious constraints in the country.

Harmeet Kaur, a Business Management student at Humber, said she is a pure vegetarian and finds it very difficult to accommodate food items suitable to her diet.

Kaur, a Sikh by religion, said she often doesn’t have the time or capacity to cook and ends up skipping meals.

“Many times I just go an entire day drinking coffee from Tim Hortons, those are my meals,” she said.

An image of a female standing in front of a background.

Harmeet Kaur, a student at Humber College, enrolled in her third semester for the business management program. Photo credit: Abhisha Nanda

“We need to find specific Indian restaurants if we want to eat the food that we left behind in our country,” Kaur said.

The study also mentioned food availability on campuses varies from geographical location.

Ayan Abdullah, a Muslim student at Humber, talked about her experience with food on campus.

An image of a female student standing a against a pillar.

Ayan Abdullah, a student at Humber College. Photo credit: Abhisha Nanda

“At Humber, the variety of food is not that great, it’s just pizza and bread, stuff that you can’t have a full meal from,” Abdullah said.

She said that the “good stuff” has beef or pepperoni on it, which she is forbidden from eating as part of her religious practice.

Humber College’s South Asian Association was contacted for comment but did not respond.

Where Abdullah said that Toronto in itself has improved in terms of food inclusivity, Pawneet feels there is still “a lot of work required.”