Opinion: Cold noodles and tofu

Trent Gautney, Opinion Reporter

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In 2018, an article was published on Spinnaker about UNF’s lack of vegan options. At this time, UNF had a rating of C according to PETA’s student rating system.

One year later, UNF has an A+ according to PETA and is a member of the Dean’s List which “…includes an elite group of institutions that have accrued enough Vegan Report Card points to rank among the highest tier of A-rated schools.”

UNF prides itself on being inclusive of all dietary restrictions and lifestyles. To be fair, it has done a lot to back up this claim as well. 

With multiple restaurants on campus that provide vegan options and a vegan section in the Osprey Café, the university is by far not the worst university when it comes to vegan options. There is even a guide for vegan dining on campus provided by UNF’s dining services.

However, this recent rating touting the school’s vegan-friendly options does not show the complete picture.

While UNF has certainly made progress in its vegan options and has clearly put forth an effort to be as helpful as it can in assisting vegan students, it is quite a stretch to give the university an A+ rating.

Speaking as a vegan student, it is by no means a simple task to eat (and enjoy the meal) on campus as a vegan. While the Osprey Café provides multiple vegan options, it is not feasible to eat there for every meal, especially for a commuter student such as myself (as well as 78% of the student body).

While there are other options on campus, many of them (such as at Einstein’s) require either a change to the option on the menu or the order of what is essentially a side dish. There are pre-packaged options at Outtakes, but I can assure you that eating cold noodles and tofu can get old pretty quickly. 

In most cases, what is offered to vegan students are snacks, not meals.

At this point, readers may be thinking that I am nitpicking here. There are better vegan options than a bagel or packaged noodles if one only takes the time to go to the café to eat. It is only a question of convenience.

However, in the life of a college student, convenience is a big deal. It is not out of laziness that students may not have time to cook their own meals or leave campus to find something, or even to sit down to eat in the café.

Amid exams, homework, and jobs, there are many times in which a student does not have the time to exhaust what would be the best vegan options on campus. 

This is not a problem for non-vegan students. There are plenty of quick and easy meals on campus for students without dietary restrictions to grab with little inconvenience. 

While I am not saying that every restaurant must have vegan options, UNF is a public university that, in many cases, is the only option for thousands of students to eat each day.

UNF is far from being unfriendly to vegans. But as far as what an A+ entails, the expectations should be higher.

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