Having any sort of dietary restriction or eating preference cuts down dining options anywhere you go. Vegans, who do not eat any sort of animal product, have particularly intense limitations when it comes to eating on campus.
Of the 1,033 options available on Cal Poly Campus Dining’s Nutrition Calculator, 213 are vegan.
Of these 135 listed food options, 74 are both vegan and gluten-free.
Of the 213 vegan options listed on Cal Poly Campus Dining’s Nutrition Calculator, 47 are drinks (coffee, tea, smoothies, or smoothie boosts), 31 are dressings, sauces or salsas, and 135 are food items (with repeats of certain items, i.e. four different kinds of french fries across Campus Dining locations).
“Eating on campus and being vegan is not good at all. There are few options.”
—Ryan Neil, structural engineering senior, vegan
“Eating on campus and being vegan is not good at all. There are few options. I have a meal plan at Metro, but I pretty much eat the same thing everyday, which is whatever the few vegan options they have are. There’s always some type of rice dish but sometimes it has eggs in it, vegetables, pasta and that’s it. They had some tofu the other day, and that made me happy. If I don’t eat at Metro, I’ll get a spicy tofu bowl from Fusion in The Ave. If I’m by the library and really desperate I’ll get a black bean and rice burrito from Tacos To Go. There’s always Subway, but the only thing I get from there is a veggie patty sandwich, which isn’t bad but it’s kind of expensive.”
“I’ll go to campus market most often.”
—Shelby Matthews, nutrition junior, vegan and gluten-free
“I’ll go to campus market most often. I’ve gotten baked potatoes from the hot bar and fruit. They have some granola bars that are vegan and that’s about it. If I go get a salad I’ll go to The Avenue.”
“I only eat on campus about four times a month when I forget food or the amount of food I bring isn’t enough.”
“It was definitely a struggle. Eating on campus was a nightmare.”
— Allegra Menniti, biological sciences sophomore, vegan and gluten-free
“I lived in Yosemite (my first year) and I had the least amount of meals and the most amount of Plus Dollars for my meal plan. I ate at Red Radish like twice a day maybe. I ate rice that was at VG’s and sometimes their salad bar and fruit. It was definitely a struggle. Eating on campus was a nightmare.”
“I never eat on campus. I haven’t eaten on campus once this whole year. Luckily I live close to campus, so I can run home between classes or I just bring food.”
“For people coming to college for the first time, it’s the first time you can eat what you want and your parents aren’t cooking for you. If there’s not vegetarian or vegan options available you’re obviously not going to make them. So people aren’t going to be accepting of it if it’s not right in front of them.”
“I mostly eat at Red Radish, which is nice, but it’s hard to eat salads twice a day.”
—Veronika Krahe, civil engineering freshman, vegan
“As a first year, I have to eat on campus a lot, I have the meal plan here, which can be frustrating at times because it’s limiting and they don’t really offer any flexibility in that plan at all.”
“I mostly eat at Red Radish, which is nice, but it’s hard to eat salads twice a day. I go there or Sandwich Factory for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or Einstein Bagels sometimes. I don’t trust Metro enough to eat there. The Ave just has snacks and stuff, the only vegan option in there that I know of is the tofu bowl, which is not great and hard to eat more than once a month. I go to Campus Market to grab stuff sometimes, they have the Amy’s meals which are good.”
“I would say (I eat on campus) a few times a week. It’s not everyday but I definitely still do.”
“I would say (I eat on campus) a few times a week. It’s not everyday but I definitely still do. I typically get salads, I’ll either go to Campus Market, The Ave, or sometimes Red Radish. This year, that’s all I’ve really done, but as a freshman, there was a lot more that I ate on campus. It was a lot harder with meal plans versus the way they have it now with all Plus Dollars. I would also go to VG’s, but there was not a lot I could get there, which was annoying. At Metro, I would get food from the salad bar or the nice little gluten-free section at the beginning only because it was gluten-free and vegan. I ate a lot of edamame and tofu because that’s all I had access to for protein which was rough. At VG’s I would get steamed vegetables and sometimes they had salad in their salad bar, which was not always a thing. I would go to Jamba Juice and Starbucks, and that’s how I used most of my Plus Dollars, not on food but on drinks, because what else was I going to get? It’s hard because I have an allergy to beans. There’s a lot of stuff here that they have that are super awesome for vegetarians and vegans but I can’t eat it.”
If there’s one thing Cal Poly’s Ethical Eating Club wants you to know, it’s that anyone can be vegan or vegetarian.
The Ethical Eating Club formed on campus in Fall 2015, and just became an official club last month, Ethical Eating Club Vice President Cammie Tolleshaug said.
“Our goal is to spread awareness about plant-based diets and different reasons why people should adopt them,” Tolleshaug said. “But it’s also to bring people together who have already decided to try veganism or have been vegetarian before, just anyone who cares about animals, their health, and the environment.”
In 2016 alone, the Ethical Eating Club received almost 200 pledges from students who will participate in “Meatless Monday” or being vegan for one day a week, Tolleshaug said.
Future plans for the Ethical Eating Club include a trip to the Happy Hen Chicken Rescue, and bringing experiences to campus such as “Brave the Cage”, where people can experience the size of chicken’s cages and “iAnimal” a virtual reality experience of what it’s like in a factory farm.
“If you’re interested in either trying out vegetarianism or veganism, don’t be scared away by the labels, or by strict rules because that’s not what it’s about,” Tolleshaug said. “Every time you sit down for a meal you have the choice and no one is perfect.”
Cal Poly Campus Dining Registered Dietitian Megan Coats said in an email, “Dining is always looking at ways to expand options for all lifestyle preferences. Because all items are customizable at all locations on campus, this makes is much easier to change an item (whether that is to omit or substitute) to meet specific preferences.”