In recent years, SIUE Dining has made more efforts to give vegetarian options, but still leave vegans with few choices.
Veganism is a dietary lifestyle that involves the complete exclusion of all animal products usually due to animal cruelty and exploitation used to make many of the products people use.
The vegan diet and lifestyle have gained popularity over the years, and according to Food Revolution Network, plant-based dairy and meat sales were over $29 billion in 2020 and are expected to increase in the near future.
People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, an international animal rights organization, provides a “report card” in which it judges vegan options at universities. According to a recent report, the number of options for vegans at universities has been increasing, so why doesn’t SIUE have many?
According to that same report, SIUE is listed as an F grade in terms of vegan dining options available to students, but this can be said about many schools in Illinois.
When taking a glance at the different dining options in the MUC, there aren’t many places that give vegan options outside of a salad bar and Auntie Anne’s if you don’t get butter on your pretzel. The Grab n Go in the dining area does offer some options, but doesn’t have very much variety overall other than wraps or fruit when it comes to a degree of affordability aside from the pricey Rootberry brand they offer.
Looking at menu options on Nutrislice, which gives nutritional information and daily menus for dining, places such as Boss Burger and Chick-fil-A are obviously off the table. Entrees is also mostly off the table for vegans, which usually offers very few options other than possibly side items. The majority of its menu is meat or contains some form of dairy. Sammiches at least offers vegan cheese and mayo, but that’s all.
It also must be understood that Dining is short on chefs for the food, making it more understandable. At the same time, some of the dishes can simply be substituted for vegan options as opposed to adding more as a whole.
SIUE is not alone in this problem, however. Many colleges, universities and public schools have had the same problem, so much so that Illinois recently saw a bill requiring public schools to have more plant-based options. House Bill 4089 was passed in May of this year by Governor J.B. Pritzker and amends The School Breakfast and Lunch Program Act by adding that schools must provide plant-based options to students.
SIUE, along with other universities, are behind when it comes to plant-based options, which will need to increase as vegan diets become steadily more common. Vegetarian students aren’t left out, so vegans shouldn’t be either.