Oakland University & ChartWells: Increase Vegan and Vegetarian Options on Campus

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To whom it may concern at ChartWells and Oakland University,

We are a group of students who run the Vegan-Vegetarian Club at Oakland University. Over the course of our time here at OU, we have felt that the food options at our dining halls and food courts could expand a little bit. Specifically, we are asking that we have more vegan and vegetarian options. For vegetarians, we are asking for options that do not include: meat, fish, or ingredients that are part of an animal’s body (such as lard, gelatin, etc.). What we mean by vegan options is: options that do not contain any dairy, eggs, honey, meat, fish, or any other animal-derived ingredients that are part of an animal's body or produced by animals (such as gelatin, milk powder, etc).

Although there are vegan and vegetarian options available at OU, the current selection is limited and prevents us from consuming a well-balanced diet. Not only are diets low in animal products proven to improve health, but these diets are environmentally friendly as well. Here are just some different ways that incorporating more plant-based meals will benefit our school and community, and why we are asking for change in our food service:

Plant-based food is overall more inclusive because there are many religions and cultures that do not believe in eating meat. Living on campus at Oakland University as a religious vegan or vegetarian can be extremely difficult because of the lack of options available. This issue can make students feel excluded from campus life as they are being prevented from choosing what they want to eat as their peers do.

Plant-based foods are less expensive in essence. Buying meat and cheese is always more costly than purchasing fruits and vegetables that are in season. This would also be a wonderful opportunity for ChartWells to support local farmers by purchasing local goods.

Plant-based meals leave less of a carbon footprint and are a more sustainable option when it comes to cuisine. As a transportation food system, lowering the overall impact on the environment and finding ways to reduce waste should be an imperative part of the company’s values.

The current options are not inclusive enough to where the Vegan-Vegetarian Club at Oakland University has not used the funding for general meetings to get catering from ChartWells. Including more plant-based meals on the menu would increase consumer population as it would provide options for a multitude of different diets and allergies.

We suggest instead of having just one option at just two stations in dining halls, we have a full vegan/vegetarian section. The food that is currently provided is barely enough to make a well-balanced meal out of. A lot of the time, students have to leave the dining hall either unsatisfied or with nothing at all because the options/variety is so low. 

Providing a system that allows students to be interactive of what meals can be provided is something that would benefit everyone. This allows non vegan/vegetarian students to vote on what they would like to eat while also allowing the vegan/vegetarian students to have options. 

By providing more vegan and vegetarian options it will give a variety of options to people transitioning and people who just want to try this lifestyle out without being secluded to one or two options. Not everyone likes the same vegan/vegetarian food so one or two options can make it very discouraging to try something new if you are limited to your selection. By getting ChartWells to get more options our type of lifestyle can be opened more to the community.

Diets high in plants and low in animal-derived proteins have shown to have many health benefits which only further supports providing vegan and vegetarian options, for the purpose of providing healthier options to our students and staff. According to a Harvard article, people who are on a plant-based diet show a 23% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/with-a-little-planning-vegan-diets-can-be-a-healthful-choice-2020020618766  

The goal of our petition is to see a change in our campus's food options so that vegans and vegetarians do not feel limited in their food options and that they have access to foods that will satisfy their dietary/nutritional requirements. 

Thank you,

Oakland University Vegan-Vegetarian Club