VT adds more vegan options to dining

by Tatjana Kondraschow–

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Blacksburg, Va. Feb. 19, Vegan options on display for purchase –  In each of Virginia Tech’s dining halls, one may find a refrigerated section with vegan options available for purchase.  Some of the possibilities include vegetable wraps, soy milk, and fruit. Photo by: Tatjana Kondraschow

Virginia Tech adds new menu items and additional labels on their packaging to expand food options for those who are vegan. According to the People of Ethical Treatment of Animals, a vegan is someone who does not consume meat, dairy products, and virtually any food source that is derived from an animal.  After numerous requests from students, Virginia Tech’s dining hall coordinator’s agreed to bring in more vegan options.

One of those coordinators being the Executive Chef of West End Market, Mark Bratton, who claims, “We’ve heard the requests, so we want to add more vegan options but also ensure that our food that is vegan is not coming in contact with any animal products. So we use separate pans and stovetops.”

Vegan options that are available at West End Market include desserts, quesadillas, and numerous vegetable and fruit dishes. Bratton said he sees the highest increase in vegan options in their Leaf and Ladle food stand. Some of the new menu items in Leaf and Ladle include a braised tempeh dish and an edamame rice bowl.

Bratton is most proud of his partnership with the vegan company, Daiya, which is his main provider for food items such as vegan cheese, sour cream, and yogurt. Bratton hopes to continue to expand his use of vegan cheese in food.

Virginia Tech student and current vegan, Reilly Scott, said, “As a vegan, it can be really hard for me to find foods that align with my dietary restrictions, but I am happy to see a steady increase in vegan options. One of my favorite meals at West End is the vegetable primavera pasta.”

Scott is not alone in her choice to be vegan, according to the research firm, Global Data, there has been a 600 percent increase in people claiming they are vegan. This means that out of every six U.S. consumers, one is vegan.

With this increase in veganism, the dining halls have also added new labels to their packaging that classify what is vegan. For example, the red pepper humus has always been considered a vegan dish but it was not advertised as so, now there is a label that states that the dip is vegan.

However, Bratton claims there is still a lot of gray areas related to the process of labeling. One of the examples Bratton gives is about the vegan chocolate cake. On the cakes packaging, it says vegan, but dining services also have to place a disclaimer that states the ingredients in the cake are made in a factory where there is a chance that it could come in contact with eggs.

“I think it could have been great if I had known freshmen year what was vegan, I would have had a lot more options,” Scott said.

Bratton plans to add even more vegan items in the future such as baked ziti, an Asian vegetable soup, and ice cream.