Washington Adventist University, A Vegetarian Adventure Since 2004

Aladdin has proudly served Washington Adventist University, a private university with a liberal arts tradition in Takoma Park, MD, since 2004.

Following the traditions of the Seventh-Day Adventist culture, Aladdin supports the church’s vegetarian lifestyle and creates a dining experience where students love to gather and engage with the dining team who cater to students of differing faiths and traditions from around the world! 

According to Michael Womack, food service director, “most of the 1,200 students follow the Adventist culture which eliminates caffeine, meat, poultry and fish from their diets.” 

Womack, who has been an Aladdin team member managing this account for nine years, was challenged to find a chef who could create an all vegetarian meal plan that was creative, tasteful and in accordance with the Adventist culture.

Executive Chef Jaime Villanueva, who has served the school for three years, created a vegetarian menu that is enjoyed by the students, faculty and staff. He is eager to continuously learn how to enhance menu offerings in the dining hall. He also frequents the Adventist Book Store (Living Well) and purchases cook books on Adventist-inspired meals!

For breakfast, students enjoy among other choices, eggs, French toast, pancakes and “vegetarian sausage” always served with an abundance of fresh fruit including pineapple, cantaloupe and strawberries.

Lunch includes vegetarian turkey, chicken and “wham”, meatless ham deli slices made from textured vegetarian and a soy-based product. A variety of fresh salads and soups are also served. For those students looking for a hot entrée, soy-based veggie burgers are a school favorite!

Dinner features assorted pastas, stir fries and hot entrees such as vegetarian meatloaf, beef wellington, macaroni and cheese and vegetarian scallops, which are among the top requests.  

Aladdin also engages students with many culinary special events. Celebrated every Wednesday after chapel, the dining team creates a Mexican bar featuring “Haystacks,” which consist of (corn, rice and beans, chips and guacamole) and a fresh salad bar with an abundance of fresh offerings.

Students also look forward to “Pink Day” which is a special celebration started by Womack honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Womack also features a dynamic guest speaker, along with discounted vegetarian fare which creates an amazing experience of unity that provides students with the opportunity to share stories about how cancer affected a loved one.

“What they like best is how we memorialize – and stand together in a circle of prayer which is very powerful,” he says. 

Womack is fortunate to have a great team of 25 employees in the back and front-of-the house, including two supervisors Gladis Feliz and Louise Hamilton; and Kathy Hecht, administrative assistant and safety coordinator, who are all integral members of the Aladdin dining team.


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