The removal of VegOut: Blockbuster or bust?

You’ve probably seen the construction site in the back corner of Mystic Market: the Pikachu painted across the white tarp, the quizzical glances of passers-by, the empty space where VegOut used to be. And if you haven’t, well, it’s true — Mystic Market’s only vegan and vegetarian eatery, VegOut, has been removed and is being replaced by ‘Tacochu,’ or more commonly known as Fresco’s Taco Bar. So why the change?

“The kiosk that VegOut occupied was not achieving its potential from a business perspective, which [is what] triggered the decision to make a change,” said UVic’s Director of Food Services, David Purcell. “We wanted to make sure that we continued to serve our vegetarian and vegan students as best we could, so the decision was made to maintain the bestsellers from VegOut — the quinoa burger, vegan poutine, etc. — and serve those items elsewhere in Mystic.”

The removal of VegOut is part of a threefold renovation of Mystic Market announced in July after UVic’s Food Services conducted a survey of staff, students, and faculty. Along with the Mexican kiosk, Bento Sushi and Booster Juice were also announced as new additions.

“We also expanded the vegetarian and vegan offerings at the other kiosks,” said Purcell. “For example, the entire base menu at Chopbox is now vegan [and] Tofino’s offers a vegan option every day, as does Trek’s. In addition to this, our new taco stand will offer a number of vegetarian options within the core menu.”

The Mexican kiosk is scheduled to be finished construction by mid-November, and has been one of the most requested additions to Mystic Market. But not all students are happy with the change.

“I’m disappointed to hear that they’re closing the eatery,” said Shannon Flaherty, a third-year Creative Writing student. “I don’t want to seem entitled, and I know that veganism and vegetarianism are choices, but I would like to see a place like that on campus simply to show people that you don’t have to eat meat at every meal to be healthy, even if you don’t want to commit to that diet strictly.”

While the VegOut menu is being added to other restaurants, Flaherty said that’s still cause for concern. “It does make me less likely to eat [at Mystic Market], because if my food is being prepared and handled around meat products, I don’t know if the staff are being mindful about keeping them separated.”

With so many students relying on the campus for food — particularly first-years — there’s no wonder why concerns would arise. However, the response to the news hasn’t been completely negative.

“I am really glad that they’re making vegan and vegetarian options readily available in Mystic,”  Flaherty said. “Perhaps that will encourage others to try these options without needing to seek out a strictly vegan eatery.”

With November creeping ever closer and the buzz surrounding Fresco’s Taco Bar climbing ever higher, will the switch be a bust or a blockbuster? Only time will tell.  

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