How veganism on campus can make the world better


A university is a place of community, belonging, and inclusivity – at UW, this extends to students and their specific accessibility or academic requirements. But when it comes to university food, which is the most essential need for students and their development, I believe our university can be a little more accommodating for people with restricted diets.

As a committed vegan, I want to focus on offering a change of perspective, analyze common opinions held about veganism in our university and appeal for more plant based options to be available in our numerous food joints. 

When asked about their personal opinions on the subject of veganism, Aanya Singh, a psychology student, said, “I think mostly people avoid such a diet because it feels a bit tasteless and there’s not enough nutrients, so we don’t feel like wasting our money on vegan food over non veg fulfilling options, but if the university included actual nutritious, protein based and appealing meals, then at least I would surely consider trying vegan options.”  

Shagun Tokas, a theatre major, who is a vegetarian herself, added, “There are only a few staple options available for those following veg diets, like tofu bowls or largely vegetable based meals but it would be much more helpful if the university considers adding more alternatives, like maybe soya chicken and plant based beef and a variety of other alternatives for meat which are easily available in all grocery stores nowadays.”

“The good thing about a vegan diet is that it doesn’t exclude anyone. While vegans can’t consume our foods, we can still consume theirs, and this is something that the university should consider when creating the menu,” said Tham Sivakumaran, another psychology major. “You can’t just serve veggies and call it a vegan meal, the food should have flavor and sauces and good protein and there should be enough variety, at least for that small population of people who have restricted diets, when evaluating the food choices available on campus.” 

When considering what options would be counted as the minimum basic for those who are following a vegan diet or have restrictions in their eating, the options should include meals that incorporate the right amount of protein and carbohydrates. To get an idea of the various fulfilling and nutritious options that can be provided for vegans, UW could gather suggestions from the complete vegan based menus at Odd Burger, Hangry Vegan, Café Pyrus and Copper Branch. These provide a mix of fast food, healthy recipes, organic snacks, protein smoothies and mouth-watering desserts.  

Moreover, another completely plant based restaurant that has recently just opened on King St. North is Veggie Planet. They serve pastas, famous Indian street food, naanzas (their own distinct creation), and burgers with a blend of Indian spices and plant based ingredients, creating a special appeal for those with restricted diets. Having these fully plant-based establishments in Waterloo is a huge step towards promoting veg diets in town and in the society as a whole. 

To be mindful of the efforts involved in such a diet, I asked UW food service employees about their opinions on incorporating more vegan options. Apiksha Shah, from the Rolltation joint in the health building, said, “We do have one vegan option available here, and it takes the same amount of effort to prepare as the other options. But if I serve 100 customers a day, then there are only ten out of the crowd who usually order a vegan meal. This is not profitable in terms of sales so perhaps, customers do need more variety to actually consider trying out the options.” 

Amir Dabibi from Hakka Wok in Davis Centre further confirmed, “The university definitely can include more vegan options and in my opinion, they have already begun doing so, as in the residential housing eateries, especially in Claudette Millar Hall, the plant based options are higher and are consumed more due to better taste and greater variety of options allowed to choose from. In on-campus university joints, mostly salads and largely vegetable-based options are available which might be the reason why the sales of such meals is less here.”

There are many unique recipes that chefs at the university can try out to expand the choices available to students. This would not just be helpful for students with restrictive diets, but would also help make the university more inclusive. 

According to a well-researched article published in 2020 by Healthline, “a vegan diet may contribute to weight loss and help people manage their blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It may also help reduce the symptoms of arthritis.” Moreover, a LANCET community report in 2021 highlighted that universities can significantly reduce their ecological impact, reduce costs, and provide healthier and more inclusive diets by leading toward a plant based food system. Our university, as a small world where habits, attitudes, and ideas for the future are created, can actively contribute to the reduction of environmentally harmful practices at the regional level.