Request for Vegan Cheese at Rutgers Cafés

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Rutgers University currently is pushing towards offering healthier options, as seen in the dining halls, Harvest, and takeout meals. The next step of this journey is changing the school cafés, which maintain a more stagnant daily menu.

We request the addition of dairy-free cheese as an ingredient, which adds a plethora of vegan options to the café's offerings - pizza, cheeseburgers, and grilled cheese. Not only would this bring about more business to the university dining services, but it would promote a healthier alternative to the other products. Students struggle to use up their meal swipes, especially as only some locations cater towards certain dietary restrictions. With 4 campuses spanning 2,688 acres of land, it is extremely inconvenient for only a select few establishments to carry vegan alternatives. Rather than let this financial opportunity go to waste, why not capitalize on this new nutritional direction?

As a student worker at the café who has recently transitioned to veganism for health and ethical reasons, constantly being surrounded by meat and animal products has made the process extremely difficult. The salary deduction for each shift's allotted meal has also been a personal financial loss, as I am unable to fully take advantage of the resources available; I typically have to bring in my own ingredients and food despite getting $3.35 taken out of my paycheck for each workday. 

I have been told that the addition of vegan cheese to the menu would be a financial loss for the institution because "no one asks for it" or that it's a "one in a million" chance of encountering an interested customer in this sense. However, this mentality normalizes erasure of individuals with opposing opinions towards the heavy meat/dairy/eggs culture currently set in place. When I finally brought in my own cheese to make the pizza pictured, I was met with many "That looks good!" and "I'd buy that..." responses. Rather than oppose the outnumbered, why not embrace their differences? Business is business, and dairy-free can be delicious. 

Rutgers promotes diversity as a defining aspect, but without being inclusive in this sense, it is still vastly unfair to the minority population. (And the popularity of plant-based lifestyles is increasing as we speak. As of 2017, 6% of the population identifies as vegan, as opposed to 1% in 2014. That's a 600% increase in the last 3 years.) Food is a basic human necessity that should not be denied to anyone, especially those reliant on their school's services. Vegan cheese, please! 


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