The Vegan Association of Turkey (TVD) is standing up for plant-based university students.
The nonprofit has filed a lawsuit against the Turkish Council of Higher Education (YÖK) for failing to provide students with adequate, nutritious vegan options at the country’s 205 universities. It maintains that failing to do so is violating the human rights of vegan students.
YÖK responded to the lawsuit by suggesting that TVD apply to each university, one by one, and ask them to offer more options.
But the nonprofit says this isn’t enough. In a statement, it says: “Leaving a problem that concerns the whole country to the initiative of each university one by one will cause disorder rather than a resolution. It will damage the balance of equal opportunity that should be established among students.”
TVD also said it could not get positive responses from universities, and this is why it is time for YÖK to step in with regulations.
Students demand change
University students themselves are also eager for institutions to change.
One petition, addressed to the İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi Rektörlüğü, has accumulated more than 1,800 signatures. Put together by the university’s vegan society, it states: “We want our most basic right: to eat!”
It goes on to state that the university does not offer a plant-based breakfast or dinner option, and only one option at lunch. It also states that vegan alternatives involve removing meat from meat dishes, and this results in “inadequate nutritional value.”
“For a fairer and more ecological ITU, for everyone to have equal access to health and nutrition, we demand the addition of a vegan menu option to the ITU cafeteria,” reads the petition.
While the lawsuit is ongoing, outcomes in the past show that it could be successful. Since 2012, the rights of vegan and vegetarian prisoners in Turkey have been protected, for example.