The Oaks now offers new, special vegan section for students

William Channell and William Channell

It recently got a bit easier to be a vegan on campus with the introduction of a dedicated vegan section called Shoots in The Oaks dining hall.

Opened last week, the new vegan portion of The Oaks has been in the works for the past year and an half. Dining Services Director Michael Paulus, who calls Shoots a “dining concept,” said it was a joint effort between the vegan club on campus, University Executive Chef Marissa Riffle and Director of Operations and Wellness Holly Sanderson.

“Each worked diligently through menu development, design, construction and building,” Paulus said.

Shoots features entirely plant-based foods prepared and served in an area separate from non-vegan dining options in The Oaks.

According to Paulus, Shoots was created to cater to dining hall patrons who are dedicated to a vegan lifestyle.

Shoots has not gone unnoticed by certain animal rights organizations. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA] and the Humane Society of the United States have recently recognized University Dining Services for their recent interest in accommodating vegan students.

“It’s amazing that they’re doing this,” said PETA Senior Campus Strategist Kenneth Montville. “The amount of vegan food on college campuses is increasing and it’s good to see Bowling Green leaning that way.”

Previously, PETA hosted a student-made petition on its website calling for the University to open a vegan dining facility. The petition pointed to the University of California at San Diego and the University of North Texas as examples of campuses who successfully introduced vegan dining options.

“It’s time for BGSU to join this emerging trend so that we can maintain our status among the most forward-thinking schools in the nation,” according to the petition.

The petition reflected an increasing percentage of college students who value having vegan-friendly options. As far back as 2004, 25 percent of college-age respondents to a survey from food service company Aramark said vegan options were important to them.

PETA in particular gave the University praise, giving a “Compassionate Campus” award to University Dining Services for its dedication to plant-based menu options.

Paulus said the award is purely incidental.

“Obviously it is flattering to receive recognition from both organizations,” Paulus said. “Our incentive is only to make our students happy.”

Paulus said while vegan and vegetarian options are available throughout campus, additional specifically vegan dining stations could be introduced based on student need and preference.