The Vegan Dilemma

Pali fails to accommodate the needs of vegan students.

The roaring growls of students’ stomachs lead them to venture off to the cafeteria, only to find their journey to be in vain. The aroma of pepperoni pizza satisfies the majority of lactose lovers but leaves a vegan student in dismay. Cream soup, chicken tenders, but no quinoa? There are multitudes of options for omnivores, but nothing for vegans. Although the popularity of plant-based alternatives is surging across the country, veganism is disregarded at Pali High.

The Guardian reports that 42 percent of adolescents aged 15 to 34 are following the path of veganism. The growing popularity of veganism is due in large part to people’s increasing awareness of the pitfalls of the animal agriculture industry, but there is some level of miscommunication between Pali’s food system and the progressive knowledge of its students.

Teenagers are choosing the route of veganism because they want to support the environment through their food choices or simply because it is “in” or “trendy.” Others are attracted to the lifestyle for health reasons. Several Pali students expressed their distaste and concern for the lack of vegan options at school.

“Some students might not be vegan but have dietary restrictions,” senior Genna Torgan said. “With those restrictions, they will not be able to eat on campus, which takes away the full school experience students should be entitled to have. Sadly, the options are limited as of now. The world is now recognizing that they are more vegetarians, vegans and people with dietary restrictions.”

“No one considers what a vegan might need to eat because no one is considering vegans,” senior Sofia Conti said. “Many people don’t even have any vegans in their social circle, so alternative diets are not their primary concern. This is why vegans are stereotyped as being annoying and constantly talking about veganism.”

Conti and other Pali vegans are frustrated about the absence of vegan food on campus and want the administration to bring forth change. The nutritional options at Pali do not reflect the diversity of Pali palates.  

Conti suggests that Pali’s failure to provide vegan options is especially detrimental to vegan students who rely on the school’s reduced lunch program.

“Pali is forcing teens in poverty to comply with a diet they might not want,” Conti said. “This is especially important since Pali always boasts about its inclusivity and how it buses kids in from all over, not just the Palisades students. They are merely concerned with providing the cheapest meal that they can mass produce, not caring if the students want to eat it. Being vegan is so good for the environment, our bodies and our souls, and by not providing vegan options, Pali denies its students the chance to better themselves and the world, which is what education is supposed to be about.”

As a plethora of animal products arrives on the plates of Pali students, the remainder of the populace remain quiet despite the dearth of vegan substitutes. The lack of vegan products doesn’t just affect the minority of vegans at the school, but also the people with dietary restrictions. Pali should acknowledge the fact that the world is getting accustomed to cater for a sundry of diets. If the number of vegans continues to increase annually, Pali will be forced to acknowledge the plight of vegans on campus.