Vegan students call for more options and variety from on-campus dining

November commemorates veganism and has students questioning if their dietary needs are being met.

Ashton Kroeger, Contributing Writer

With November being Vegan Month, students have expressed their concern with the university’s vegan dining options.

Vegan Month commemorates when veganism became its own branch of vegetarianism in 1994. That same year, World Vegan Day was also launched, which takes place on Nov. 1. 

Veganism differs from vegetarianism in that it prohibits the consumption and use of animal products, including milk and eggs. Vegetarians abstain from eating meat and using products that are obtained by animal slaughter. These rules vary from person to person depending on the degree to which they follow the lifestyle. 

As veganism becomes increasingly more mainstream today, students at the university are still finding the vegan options on-campus to be inadequate. 

“From the past three years, what I’ve experienced on campus in terms of food options has been slightly disappointing,” said Melanie Duran, a junior neuroscience and behavior major.  

The university has made strides to be more vegan and vegetarian friendly with new options, such as the addition of Maoz Vegetarian to the Breezeway Food Court. 

However, those who have a plant-based diet agree there still needs to be more choices. 

“I think the dining hall should have a lot more vegan eats that actually appeal to students who are plant based,” said Duran. 

Maddie Freshwater, a freshman multimedia studies major, agrees that the university needs to be more considerate when it comes to the vegan options they are offering. 

“I’d like to see more variety as it’s usually the same foods,” said Freshwater. “The vegetables they have never changed and I’d like to see variety there.” 

Freshwater also points out that there are no vegan dessert options. Duran suggested a soft serve machine that is water based for the dining hall. 

“It’s little substitutions like that that could make all the difference,” said Duran.

Ninel Leonardo, a sophomore biology major, agrees that the selection for vegan options in the dining hall could greatly be improved. Even sharing her experiences of having difficulty finding adequate food to meet her dietary needs. “The dining almost always has just vegetarian options so there would be times where I would go to the dining hall and then leave because they didn’t have any options for me.” 

While the dining hall does provide a line specifically for vegan and vegetarian options, the Pure Station, and a salad bar alongside it, Leonardo voices that this still isn’t enough. “Yes, there is a salad bar but I think I can speak for many vegans when I say salad isn’t the only thing we eat.” 

Vegan options lacking in the dining hall are uncharacteristic for Boca Raton, as Leonardo explains is a vegan friendly place to live. 

The lack of options creates more difficulties for students who rely on campus dining, especially for those with dietary restrictions. Freshwater explains how not having a car on campus has made it hard for her to explore the vegan options off campus. With on-campus dining becoming their default option, vegan students should be able to expect more variety. 

Another factor vegan students may face eating on-campus is that vegan options typically cost more than their counterparts. Research suggests that when eating out, vegans may pay up to 65% more on their average meal than those who do not have a dietary restriction, according to Nerdwallet

“If they could have vegan household foods such as pizza or macaroni and cheese, that would be nice,” Freshwater said, suggesting new kinds of food the university could implement in the dining hall. “They [FAU dining hall] should try different sauces for the pasta, like vegan alfredo. I think a lot more people would appreciate it than always having the same old options,” said Duran.

Leonardo made such suggestions as sending out a survey to university students to gauge how many vegans there are, reaching out to vegan restaurants in Boca Raton to do a food truck, and doing more research on dietary restrictions. 

“Most of the time with their vegetarian options, the meals are one ingredient from being vegan,” Leonardo explains. “So, it would be very simple to change recipes and learn new ways to incorporate vegan foods into their menu without it just being fruits and vegetables.” 

Providing a wider range of dining options could benefit both vegan and non-vegan students alike.

“I think everyone can find at least one benefit from trying to live a vegan lifestyle. If not for the animals, for the health benefits,” said Duran. 

Ashton Kroeger is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @ash.kroeger.