Both on and off Ohio State’s campus, veganism has maintained its relevance, garnering even more followers during the pandemic.
Veganism has been at an all-time high over the past few years, and it continues to rise in popularity, according to the vegan statistics website VegNews. Vegan meat sales spiked by 148 percent during the peak buying period in March, according to data released by the Plant Based Foods Association and market research company SPINS.
Hannah Tronetti, a fourth-year in animal sciences and president of the Plant-Based Society at Ohio State, said she has seen veganism becoming popular around campus.
“We have received more new members recently,” Tronetti said. “Veganism is definitely becoming more popular — it is definitely for a variety of reasons.”
The Plant-Based Society is a student organization with a mission to “grow the community of vegan, vegetarian and veg-curious students at Ohio State by forging friendships among those already vegan or vegetarian and educating the rest of Ohio State’s campus community about plant-based lifestyles,” according to its Facebook page. Tronetti said about 30 new students have reached out about the club.
“Our organization promotes sustainability and plant-based products and organizations,” Tronetti said. “We believe that making small changes can have large effects in terms of helping ourselves, animals and the environment.”
Tronetti said the club’s main activities include going to local restaurants to try new foods. Two popular restaurants near campus, Eden Burger and Nile Vegan, as well as on-campus spots have welcomed students with a plethora of options.
The Eden Burger patties are made from lentils, sunflower seeds, rice, mushrooms, gluten-free oats, beets, liquid aminos and spices, according to the restaurant’s menu. Nile Vegan offers vegan Ethiopian food made from tofu, mushrooms, lentils and other vegetables.
On campus, vegan options for students include plant-based, seven-grain chicken tenders at Mirror Lake, vegan pizza at Marketplace on Neil, plant-based boneless wings at Woody’s Tavern and Traditions at Scott and Beyond Burgers from the Thyme and Change 2.0 food truck.
Sam Testra, a general manager at Nile Vegan, said the number of new customers is trending upward.
“We definitely have gotten quite a few more people coming in than before, which is great to see,” Testra said. “We get all types of age groups coming in.”
Mallory McCreary, a general manager at Eden Burger, said about 40 percent of sales come from Ohio State students. She said she sees why this trend continues to grow with new options consistently being introduced at restaurants across the country.
“Looking at other restaurants, especially national chains giving more vegan options, it seems like veganism is on the rise,” McCreary said. “Veganism is very accessible and there are more options.”
Beyond Meat, a plant-based meat alternative company, just landed a handful of partnerships with national chains such as McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, making veganism accessible to a wider audience, according to The Hill.
Tronetti said anyone can join the club without necessarily being vegan. In fact, she encouraged people with all varieties of diets to come learn about living a vegan lifestyle.
“It’s not necessarily being 100 percent vegan or vegetarian, but more so about making informed, conscientious choices about product consumption,” Tronetti said. “Many of our members are vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, ovo-vegetarian, practice ‘meatless Mondays’ or even just simply want to learn more about a plant-based lifestyle.”