Tips for Creating a Vegan-Friendly Campus


Tips for Creating a Vegan-Friendly Campus

Vegan-Friendly Colleges Do you identify yourself as a vegan? If so, you are not alone. In fact, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the number of vegan students on college campuses has doubled since 2005. With those numbers, you would think that there would be plenty of vegan options at college dining halls, but sadly that is not the case. For most students, vegan options are limited to the salad bar or Meatless Monday. There are, however, a few colleges that should be recognized for their vegan efforts. The University of California at San Diego (UCSD) offers vegan dishes at all of its full-service restaurants and smaller eateries on campus, giving students healthy (and delicious) choices, such as garden burgers and vegetable burritos. Not to be outdone, the University of North Texas (UNT) broke new ground last year by opening a 100 percent vegan cafeteria on campus, providing a plethora of choices for those on restricted diets. Both are featured on PETA’s annual list of Vegan-Friendly Colleges, which recognizes those campuses that go the extra step to provide diverse menus for their students. But what options do you have if your college is not on the vegan-friendly list? Here are a few things you can try to improve the selection of vegan offerings at your campus dining halls.

1. Work with the Dining Facilities Department

Most campuses have food service managers and staff members that are happy to work with students to provide alternate menu options for those on a restrictive diet, but they can’t make changes if they are unaware of the demand for these options. If you are interested in adding vegan options to your campus dining menus, consider these suggestions:

  • Start a petition and collect signatures of other vegans on your campus
  • Meet with the director of food services to voice your concerns (be sure to bring along your petition!)
  • Create a Food Service Committee (or join an existing committee)
  • Set up an information table during dining hours to introduce students to potential vegan menu choices
  • Provide dining directors with a list of meat and dairy alternatives, such as Gardein and Tofurky

2. Educate Other Students

Many vegan students report eating the majority of their meals in their dorm rooms because of limited menu options or harassment by other students over their choice of diet. Trust me, you are not alone. A great way to find other vegans (and welcome new ones!) is to educate others about the lifestyle. Here are few suggestions that may work on your campus:

  • Host an informational table during campus events, such as Rush Week and new student orientation
  • Provide the campus health center with brochures and fliers on the benefits of a vegan diet
  • Arrange for a guest speaker to visit your campus
  • Host a vegan social night, offering samples of vegan foods and educational materials
  • Write a guest blog or column for your school paper

It may also be a good idea to contact current vegan-friendly colleges and find out what has worked well on their campuses, as this may help persuade your campus administration. Be prepared to provide petitions and other documents showing support for a vegan initiative at your dining halls, as well as cost-effective alternatives to current menu items; the easier you make it for them, the more likely you are to see results. One last thing, be sure to document your campaign to convert your dining hall to vegan, as you could win $1,000 for your efforts. It may take some time, but in the end, your taste buds (and possibly your wallet) will thank you for it!