Abstentions latest to offer a vegan option on campus

With the recent addition of vegan ice cream at Abstentions, the convenience store joined the likes of Mike’s Place and Rooster’s as restaurants that offer vegan food at Carleton.

Not to be left out, Carleton University Dining Services, the organization in charge of the cafeteria in Residence Commons among other on-campus locations, has offered vegan options for a while now.

Jane Skapinker, a registered dietitian for Dining Services, said they are always trying to offer more vegan options.

“While we may not have used the term ‘vegan,’ we have always made an effort to incorporate a variety of foods, including plant based foods,” Skapinker said, “and as the demand has grown for vegan foods, so have our options.”

Indeed, the plant-based movement seems to be continually gaining momentum in Canada, according to the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research. A report from the publication found approximately four per cent of adult Canadians were vegetarian as of 2003, but that figure had doubled to eight per cent by 2015, according to the Vancouver Humane Society and polling company Environics.

“We have seen an increase in the requests for vegan options increase over the last number of years,” Skapinker said. “Not only are there more students adopting these dietary choices, but lots of students who are not necessarily vegan are adding vegan offerings to their meals.”

Savannah Greene, president of the Carleton Animal Defence, said her club is dedicated to educating students on the cruelty that animals face and what steps can be taken to minimize animal suffering. This goes hand in hand with the vegan diet that they support, she said.

Greene said she is relatively satisfied with the vegan options on campus, but admits there’s always room for improvement.

“We think there’s definitely tons of options—sometimes we hear students say that they’re worried about it but I have never had a problem finding something,” Greene said. “If anything, a lot of the options are the cheapest things you could possibly get on campus. But we would also like to see less cross-contamination.”

Regarding cross-contamination, Greene said Rooster’s could do better.

“Rooster’s does offer a lot of vegan options,” Greene said. “However, we want to try talking to them because we know sometimes cheese gets mixed in with a lot of the vegetables and that’s a problem for vegans because we aren’t comfortable ingesting anything from an animal.”

Fahd Alhattab, Carleton University Students’ Association president, said the association has sent out a food survey to students and a common theme in responses is the desire for more vegan food on campus.

He said the veggie wrap at Oliver’s Pub makes up 3.4 per cent of all wrap sales and the garden salad accounts for around 20 per cent of salad sales at the pub.

Austin Glover, a Carleton student who has been vegan for almost two years, said he isn’t as impressed with the plant based options on campus. He said he believes an alternative approach would prove more beneficial for vegan students.

“They need to approach it not as ‘vegan’ food,” Glover said. “There’s too much stigma around it and it becomes a compromise for vegan students.”

“The school ought to approach vegan options as a healthy plant based alternative for students,” he said. “The idea that vegan food is for everyone and not to forget that the vegan diet is just vegetables that everyone eats.”

Greene said she hasn’t had the opportunity to try the vegan ice cream Abstentions is now selling, but she has high hopes.

“I’m really curious to see what brand they implemented and the cost, since they are a convenience store,” Greene said. “That still is a great step though, especially for vegans on campus who want more vegan dessert options.”