It’s gaining popularity at IPFW despite a lack of support.
While living a vegan lifestyle may be a breeze at schools like the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, students at IPFW have far fewer vegan options.
According to Google, searches for the term “vegan” increased by 32 percent in the past year. In addition, orders for PETA UK’s vegan starter kits have increased from 14,000 in 2013 to 35,000 in 2015, according to its website.
“It’s so easy,” said Zoya Chicks, a freshman industrial design major at MIAD. “It’s hard to think about even not being able to eat vegan, especially since I’m in the city. There are so many vegan options.”
The MIAD cafeteria offers an array of vegan options, ranging from salad bars, vegan pastries, and vegan sandwiches. Chicks also said that some field trips offered only vegan options to students, and described her school as supportive.
However, this is not the case in her hometown of Muskego, Wisconsin. Chicks said being vegan was impossible, and that friends had difficulty making the dietary change too, due to the lack of options.
This same lack of vegan options is prevalent at IPFW, said Aubrey Brinneman, an IPFW senior nursing student from Fort Wayne.
Brinneman said vegan options on-campus are non-existent, making a vegan lifestyle inconvenient but not out of the question.
“I make really good food, but it’s hard to find that, especially here at school,” Brinneman said. “And I think that, from what I know, there are a lot of vegan and vegetarian students here. But no options.”
Brinneman said most vegans at IPFW are used to bringing their own food to campus, but it is hard when they are studying for long hours. She said it would be nice not to have to drive off-campus in order to find vegan choices, which is inconvenient and time-consuming.
However, Brinneman doesn’t see IPFW’s lack of options as the biggest obstacle in being vegan.
“Most of the time that we do struggle is not with eating out,” Brinneman said, “but with going to family member’s houses.”
Judy Tillapaugh, a licensed dietician at IPFW, said the majority of families in the area tend to follow a meat-based diet. Because of this, she said the smaller number of vegans in Fort Wayne compared to other areas could have to do with both social and cultural factors.
Both Brinneman and Chicks described a lack of support from their families who eat meat. However, both stated that eating a vegan diet itself was not as difficult as they had thought it would be.
Brinneman said lack of awareness probably has a lot to do with why fewer people in Fort Wayne are vegan than in other places. However, she said people have appeared interested in the diet, and often come to her with questions.
“When you teach them that there’s meals that are easy and delicious and cheap too, it’s really easy for people to make that connection and make the switch,” Brinneman said while smiling. “In the past year-and-a-half, I personally know five more people that have become vegan, and it’s definitely growing.”
Event for vegans and vegetarians:
- “Where Do You Get Your Protein: Chickpea Cooking Demo”
- For anyone wanting to add more protein and whole foods to their diet
- 3405 Sun Valley Drive, Fort Wayne
- From 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday
- To learn more about the vegan community at IPFW, view the Fort Wayne and NE Indiana Vegans and Vegetarians Facebook group.