DUSDAC asks Sprout to improve vegetarian and vegan labelling

Millennials can’t buy homes because they buy too much avocado toast, Australian millionaire Tim Gurner famously said. Now, the pricey snack is being served to Duke students at the Brodhead Center. 

Avocado toast—and more specifically, getting Sprout to improve signage for vegan and vegetarian options, like the toast—was a priority for the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee at its weekly meeting Tuesday. Sprout has been offering the toast delicacy every day for roughly two months as a special when avocado is in season, but few have heard of it because it is not on open display. 

DUSDAC members received a sample of the avocado toast offered by Sprout. The restaurant’s rendition of the toast is not traditional, as it features diced tomatoes, basil and an avocado sauce of sorts—not the spread most are accustomed to. 

“It felt more like an avocado dressing,” senior Quinn Steven, co-chair of DUSDAC, said. “When I think of an avocado toast, I think of mashed avocado on top.”

Steven pushed for more vegan options, more variety and better labeling of vegan foods at Sprout’s stand. However, she stressed that the lack of labeling vegan options was not just a problem at Sprout—the issue exists all over campus. 

“We’ve heard feedback that if things are vegan, [students] want them clearly labeled,” Steven said. “It’s for most things on campus, and specifically with West Union because it’s one of the most central dining places on campus.”

Steven also suggested a larger breadth of vegan options and more variety in Sprout’s salads. She noted that the kale salad at Sprout has cheese in it, which might be appealing to some vegetarians but would exclude vegans. Steven also said that Sprout doesn’t advertise its specials, which aren’t under the display case, leaving vegans with fewer readily apparent options. 

“Maybe we need to a better job of presenting things and doing things,” Fares Hanna, who operates Sprout, said. “Sometimes our menu board doesn’t help us to be able to change things and do things differently. Although the Sprout menu board is a nice board—don’t get me wrong—how much information can you put up there and still keep it clean and clear to understand?”

Hanna also pushed back against the idea that there weren’t enough vegan options, noting there were roughly 20 choices of vegan platters that would be available. 

“You can go the whole week and not eat the same thing,” Hanna said. 

But he was open to efforts to better display the vegan options and label them more clearly, as DUSDAC members suggested. Committee members also said it would be easier for vegans to understand all of the options if given a paper menu with strong graphics listing out their choices. Hanna also noted that the restaurant is considering adding one or two smoothie options to its menu. 

“That’s what I want to hear from you people, to see how we can make it easier,” Hanna said. 

Correction: This article was updated Thursday to note that Fares Hanna presented at the meeting, not Ferris Hannah.

Ben Leonard profile
Ben Leonard

Managing Editor 2018-19, 2019-2020 Features & Investigations Editor 

A member of the class of 2020 hailing from San Mateo, Calif., Ben is The Chronicle's Towerview Editor and Investigations Editor. Outside of the Chronicle, he is a public policy major working towards a journalism certificate, has interned at the Tampa Bay Times and NBC News and frequents Pitchforks. 


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