Ames expands dietary options for vegan, vegetarian students


Iowa State Daily

ISU Dining Assistant Director for Retail Kristi Patel said having vegan or vegetarian concepts for students is a focus for ISU Dining.

Angelica Lawson

Being a student with a restrictive or unique diet has its challenges and limitations. More sources than ever are available for vegetarian and vegan ISU students.

The Ethical Eating Club on campus is a source for students who are interested in ethical, sustainable, vegan and vegetarian diets.

The club is focused on supporting students with any and all steps toward a more moral way of eating. Its goal is to help students take an ethical approach to all aspects of their diets. For many students this is the first time they are completely in control of their dietary choices.

Tanner Wahlin, president of the ISU Ethical Eating Club, said he learned about veganism and ethical eating while trying to lose weight in high school.

“The more I read about it, [it] changed my mind and how I felt … that year I decided to become vegan. It took until that summer to fully transition because of my family. I was still living at home and eating what my parents made,” Wahlin said.

The Ethical Eating Club is not solely for students who are vegan or vegetarian. The club has a mission to cater to all ISU students who are interested in becoming ethical eaters, including meat eaters, who choose to have local, fresh and ethically sourced meats.

“I was interested in eating meat that was locally produced, ethically produced, so that I knew where it was coming from and how it was impacting the communities and the laborers, and the folks that were working with it,” said Ahna Kruzic, graduate student in sustainable agriculture and sociology.

Kruzic said she started by eating locally produced meat, but found that she could not afford the added expense. She decided to quit eating meat all together and didn’t miss it at all.

Veganism and vegetarianism are on the rise, according to a 2012 study done by the Vegetarian Resource Group. Iowa State has increased its vegetarian offerings and is dedicated to adding more vegan options for students to enjoy while on campus.

ISU Dining Assistant Director for Retail Kristi Patel said customization is important. She said having vegan or vegetarian concepts for students is a focus for ISU Dining.

“I think we’ll continue to expand on those [services]. We know that students are more health conscience, they are looking for more items that they consider to be healthier to eat, so thats a big focus for us all across ISU Dining,” Patel said.

There are several local options outside Iowa State for students searching for help with their vegan or vegetarian diet. Vegans of Iowa is an online source for people looking for local vegan options in need of guidance with vegan products. The website recently featured Ames businesses Wheatsfield Cooperative and Vesuvius Woodfire Pizza, recognizing both as vegan-friendly. 

“There needs to be something in Iowa that showcases restaurants and anything that feature vegan food … by the end of the week we had all the social media [accounts] and [our] website,” said Ace Wilde, co-founder of Vegans of Iowa.

“We wanted to make a way to shed light on the great ways of being vegan, all the great resources available and the places we could go. We wanted to connect a community,” said Chelsea Clegg, founder of Vegans of Iowa.

Wilde said there have always been local resources for vegans, but those resources have become more abundant in Iowa during the past 10 years. The growth of vegan products has helped aid this market of consumers. Now these items are available almost everywhere. 

The Ames community has a growing population and with the sources available in this agricultural community there is more help for students who are interested in ethical, sustainable, vegan and vegetarian diets.