• Akash Satpathy

Introducing: The UA Veggie Cats Plant-Based Campaign

Updated: Dec 14, 2021



Article Sections

 

I Motivation

II Goals and Objectives

i Goals

ii Primary Objectives

III Campaign Structure

i Three different parts of the campaign

ii Information about the Letter

IV Updates

V Resources

i Marketing Materials

ii Petition Link

iii Contact Information

 

Motivation


I first became aware of the benefits of a plant-based diet around two and half years ago. It was a combination of ethical, environmental, and health-related arguments that changed my mind. However, being a sophomore who lived in one of the campus dorms at the time, I was unsure if I could be entirely plant-based. If I had the option to cook, then doing so would have been easier. But getting groceries and cooking three meals a day in a kitchen shared with 350-something students while managing two STEM degrees was not a feasible option (plus, I had already bought one of the meal plans by then). So, I decided that I would start by cutting down on my meat consumption. I had paid $5000 for the so-called Gold Plan, and I was in a large public university with 45,000 students, so I thought to myself, "How hard could it be to find some rice and tofu around here?"


Turns out, very hard. Satiating, nutritious plant-based meals were (and still are) non-existent on campus. The 300-calorie chickpea salad could only do so much; the peanut butter sandwich was fine, but it wasn't much of a meal; and the $2.49 surcharge for adding a measly portion of tofu to your rice bowl at Core+ seemed exorbitant (for reference, a pound of tofu costs around $1.79). Pangea occasionally had a few plant-based items, but the protein options were always meat-based. As a financially conscious college student, I would always go for the cheapest option, and those were usually greasy fast-food options - you know, the ones every health organization always advises us to avoid.


The University of Arizona prides itself on being a sustainable, innovative, and forward-thinking institution. Then why has the administration decided to not be sustainable and forward-thinking when it comes to food options on campus? And why is accessibility to cheap and nutritious foods so limited? I could go on, but the main point is simple: we could do so much better.


Do you believe that the university could do better? Do you believe that wider access to plant-based for you or other university students would be a positive change? Do you think that healthier and affordable green options should be available to all? If yes, then sign the petition, share it with your friends, and check out the campaign plans below!


Goals and Objectives


Goal: To demand that the University of Arizona Student Union make at least 50% of entrees in campus-operated restaurants plant-based within the next two years.


Primary Objectives:

- To make the university more sustainable

- To promote the plant-based way of eating

- To increase the diversity of food options on campus

- To make affordable and nutritious meals available to all

Notes:

The 50% figure has been chosen to maintain a fair balance of food options for students while ensuring that the campaign's primary objectives are met.


Petition results show that the majority of respondents would ideally spend between $10 - $15 per day while eating on-campus. Therefore, we would like to see a reasonable number of new plant-based entrees priced around the 4-dollar mark. This is possible given the low cost per gram of Whole Foods Plant-Based (WFPB) food items (for instance, the price of rice and tofu per gram). The cost will be covered in more detail in the letter.


Campaign Structure


The campaign will be conducted for a duration of 9 weeks (from September to November), and has been divided into three parts -

  1. Survey: Reviewing existing Plant-Based options on campus to evaluate the number of existing options and assess the scope of change that can be implemented. Duration: 3 weeks.

  2. Signature: Collecting signatures from students and faculty to show support for the campaign. Duration: 9 weeks.

  3. Letter: Drafting a letter to the administration highlighting all the reasons plant-based options on campus should be increased. Duration: 7 weeks.


More about the Letter -

The letter will be substantive piece of work and will incorporate results from the Survey and Signature phase along with external sources of information. It will be roughly contain four main sections:

  1. Nutrition and Public Health: Research articles citing the nutritional adequacy of plant-based diets, medical consensus on the risk of high meat intake, public health risks such as antibiotic resistance and pandemic causation, diets and health outcomes in marginalized communities (ex: dairy intolerance, heart disease in the African American population), negative reinforcement, food quality, and more.

  2. Environment: Emissions related to factory farming (Crippa et al. 2021), contribution to biodiversity loss, Nitrogen imbalance, deforestation due to ranching, water and soil pollution, excessive land usage, etc.

  3. Ethics: Mistreatment of animals in factory farms, mistreatment of labor (for instance, low wages, indentured servitude, high rate of SPD), and general reflections on the moral status of non-human animals.

  4. Precedents, Cost, and Logistics: Examples of other universities and organizations that have made changes (eg: Berlin Public Universities, Harvard, Yale, UCLA, ASU, the American Medical Association, etc), non-adherence to existing university policies addressing sustainability, existing infrastructure, staff, and training, low cost of plant-based foods, and transition support from the Humane Society of the United States.


Updates

  • Two meetings with the Director of Dining of the Student Union have been held (meeting details will be outlined in an upcoming blog post and email update soon). Further meetings are expected next semester.

  • Survey phase is complete - less than 5% of options with 700 calories and 25 grams of protein are plant-based (detailed results will be published soon).

  • 1550+ signatures have been collected so far!

  • Survey results show that at least 75% of respondents are either somewhat unsatisfied or extremely unsatisfied with the diversity of food options on campus. Further, nearly 40% of respondents think that campus food is not affordable, and more than 45% respondents feel that healthy options are inaccessible to them.

  • The draft of the letter is under progress and will be completed before New Year's Eve.


Resources


All marketing materials created have been attached below. Feel free to share them with your friends!


Petition Link: https://uarizona.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_d5ded76dZrQ5Nk2

Webpage: uaveggiecats.com

Instagram: @uaveggiecats


For any questions, comments, suggestions, or, if you wish to help us with the campaign, email Akash (satpathyakash@email.arizona.edu)


Last updated: 14.12.2021




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