Let me start out by saying, I am not a vegan. I am not even a vegetarian. I say this not as a mark of pride, but more as a sign of my own weakness. As I'm sure you know, in our age of technology there have been many documentaries and pictures which rightfully bemoan the food industry for its mistreatment of animals. Many have taken these new sources of information as a call to action and have chosen to abstain from the consumption of animal products. I have an enormous amount of respect for these people – and so does RIT. With that in mind, RIT could be doing more to accommodate the vegetarians and vegans on campus, without just handing them a plate of boiled mushy vegetables.

RIT claims to be making steps toward change in regards to their inclusion of vegans, yet there are very few places on campus that specifically cater to the needs of vegans. Artesano’s has vegan sandwich options which are placed off to the side and almost tucked away from view. Gracie’s also offers a line of vegan options in a small section called Simply Eats, which is relatively new to the dining facility. However, this buffet is also shared by those who need a gluten-free diet, and much of the food there suffers from the “boiled vegetable problem” mentioned earlier. Not only that, the food at this station is generally agreed to be somewhat nasty, according to first year Biology student Makayla Balcher.

“The dining at RIT hasn’t been all bad,” said Balcher, who identifies as a vegetarian. Balcher talked about the variety of places she is able to eat on campus including the Ritz, Salsaritas (her favorite) and Crossroads. All three of these establishments offer vegetarian options, be it through panini, burritos or black bean burgers, respectively, but not all of these options are vegan. It’s great that RIT is making steps to accommodate at least the vegetarians on campus, but many of these turn out to be half-measures, because RIT’s favorite way to spruce up a dish is to add those small pieces of the pre-grill mark-stamped chicken breast or cheese. Only one of those options suits vegetarians, and none of them suit vegans.

As it stands now, it seems as though the best option for the vegan students on campus would be to cook their own food, which is an unfair and often inaccessible option for freshman living in the dorms. There are very few places on campus right now that offer dedicated vegan options, and often if a student asks a food service worker what a certain dish contains, the worker will not know. However, the future is not without hope. With the implementation of the new Pawprints website by Student Government, those looking to make a change on campus are more able to do so than ever before. This RIT petition website is a great forum which will bring to light issues that students are facing, but the change cannot just come from one source. Those who are vegan and do not feel properly accommodated should join the discussion, because it's already happening. RIT is making strides for change, most notably with the upcoming Gracie’s revamp, but only time will tell if these promises mean real change or if they’re only as real as the grill marks on their packaged chicken – and this is in no small part up to you.