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Why dining services at UNF aren’t enough for vegan students

Heydi Ortiz

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Vegan diets are becoming increasingly popular among college campuses as students seek to not only change their diet for the sake of health, but also for the bettering of the environment by depending solely on plant-based food options.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

It’s safe to say there’s been a recent craze in plant-based diets, as the Food Revolution Network found there has been a 600 percent increase in the number of individuals who opt to identify themselves as vegan in the past three years. But there is a price to pay for opting out of consuming animal products and byproducts. Despite a spike in the veganism trend, vegans are still tremendously underrepresented in college campus cafeterias across the United States.

Thankfully, UNF offers options for vegan students. With a vegan/vegetarian section consisting of three options in the Osprey Cafe, there is something for everyone to eat. Are the food options the campus offers vegan students who pay for the same meal memberships as meat eaters enough or is there more to be done?

“I think something that becomes really frustrating is when they have things like vegan meatballs but then the spaghetti isn’t vegan, so everyone is enjoying their nice meal and their many options while I’m left with just a plate of meatless meatballs,” said first-year student Katherine Graham. Graham also said that the cafe struggles with mislabeling the items on the menu as vegan online but then labeling them as vegetarian in person.

There are other options on campus such as Starbucks and Chopped and Wrapped that offer vegan options for those who are willing to splurge their dining dollars or spare cash. But most people who have meal plans are first-year students who pay hundreds of dollars for a well-done meal.

“I think a step in the right direction and something most people don’t think about is cooking with oil instead of butter or just steaming the vegetables without the addition of butter. It’s simple and easy,” said Graham.

According to peta2, the University of North Florida is rated as a C on its vegan report with a 67 percent in student satisfaction. UF and USF are rated among the top most vegan-friendly campuses in Florida, participating in events like Meatless Mondays, annual Veg Fests and offering a wide variety of options for vegan students, from things like vegan burritos and chicken patties to vegan soft-serve ice cream.

Including a wide variety of vegan options doesn’t only benefit those who are vegan. It also benefits vegetarians and students who struggle with food intolerances towards gluten or milk and gives them more options.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Why dining services at UNF aren’t enough for vegan students”

  1. JC on November 27th, 2018 4:47 pm

    According to some basic stats found quickly and simply for the purpose of gauging a point of reference, there are less than 3% of Americans who identify as vegan. To claim they are grossly misrepresented on campus might be a bit of a stretch. For reference, there are roughly 16,000 students at UNF. If those stats above translate, about 400 of them would say they are vegan. It would be a gross misrepresentation to the other 97% to drastically re work the menu. However, perhaps healthier eating might be a god thing.

    Nice article and good info, but might fit as more of an opinion piece based off of some of the rhetoric. Thanks for writing.

  2. KM on November 28th, 2018 10:07 am

    Actually, JC, according to the recent 2017 Top Trends in Prepared Foods report found “Consumers’ diets are diverse, and while most claim not to follow a specific diet, there is a gradual shift occurring in response to health trends. Interestingly, 44% of consumers in Germany follow a low-meat diet, which is a significant increase from 2014 (26%). Similarly, 6% of US consumers now claim to be vegan, up from just 1% in 2014.” (citation below)

    Now, factor in that according to other reports that those trends tend to skew more toward younger demographics (citation below) you can imagine that the trend would be even higher among UNF college students than the general American population.

    Now, also factor in the point that more people are focusing their diet to be less meat-centric, meaning that vegan items would appeal to those who are not just vegan or vegetarian, but also those who abstain from meat for religious reasons (Orthodox fasting, halal, kosher, Lent, etc.) or for health reasons, and the idea that you’re taking away from the other 97% (a fallacious number) but rather keeping in line with current food trends.

    Lastly, even if it were just 400 students, if 1/4 of them are freshmen who are required to pay hundreds of dollars a semester for a meal plan there ought to be something substantial for them to eat as they can’t opt out of paying for said meal plan.

    https://www.reportbuyer.com/product/4959853/top-trends-in-prepared-foods-2017-exploring-trends-in-meat-fish-and-seafood-pasta-noodles-and-rice-prepared-meals-savory-deli-food-soup-and-meat-substitutes.html

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelpellmanrowland/2018/03/23/millennials-move-away-from-meat/#5ea804cba4a4

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