Canadian universities aim to boost plant-based options on menus in 2024 to meet student demand

Leila Ahouman, CBC News, December 26, 2023

…. Universities across the country are introducing more plant-based food in their dining halls, something institutions say is an ongoing demand from students for more variety and a larger push for more sustainable practices.

At Western, students are the driving force behind the increase in vegan and vegetarian meals. The university set a goal of having a 40 per cent plant-based menu at all dining halls by the new year, but it hit the target — and at some points even surpassed it — this year. A fully vegan outlet will open in 2024, and the school wants to reach a 50 per cent target in 2025.

Colin Porter, director of hospitality services at Western, said when students initially complained about the lack of nutritious and healthy options, the school had to “take responsibility and align with sustainability values.”

Chefs from Ontario universities train to cater to student demands for plant-based foods

The push to have more plant-based menus on campuses is happening across the country. At the University of British Columbia, 55 per cent of the food in dining halls is plant-based, and the Vancouver school hopes to reach a goal of 80 per cent by 2025. Also that year, Concordia University in Montreal plans to reduce its purchase of meat, dairy and eggs by 30 per cent.

Similarly, Dalhousie University in Halifax aims to offer a menu with at least 50 per cent plant-based food options by 2030. And while plant-based options represented less than half of the University of Toronto’s food services offerings two years ago, they now account for 61 per cent.

David Speight, the executive chef and culinary director of food services at UBC, explains how 55 per cent of the university’s menu is plant-based — and what this represents for universities in Canada….

[… Read more at CBC News ]


UK Students Call for Plant-Based Meals at Universities to Fight Climate Change

student-led outreach campaign supported by the climate and animal justice group Animal Rebellion has mobilized hundreds of students at over 20 UK universities. The students are calling for their universities to drop animal products from their catering menus before the 2023-24 academic year. 

Student activist Vaania Kapoor Achuthan, 19, from University College London says that in order to ensure a sustainable future, major institutions like colleges and universities have a responsibility to move “towards 100% just and sustainable plant-based catering.” Achuthan and other students argue that universities choosing to include animal products in their cafeterias not only illustrates complicity in the climate crisis, but also makes it more difficult for them to reach their sustainability goals.

Despite a 2006 United Nations report that found that animal agriculture emitted more greenhouse emissions than all of the transportation sector combined, progress mitigating the impact of animal agriculture on climate change has been slow, and the situation has grown more dire. Animal agriculture currently contributes at least 37 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, although estimates vary, is responsible for 65 percent of anthropogenic nitrous oxide emissions, and is the leading cause of deforestation around the world. Livestock emissions also account for 32 percent of human-caused methane emissions, which account for 30 percent of global warming to date. The environmental justice group CimateNexus reports that greenhouse gasses could be cut in half by the adoption of a plant-based diet, which is why these students are lobbying their universities to drop meat from their menus.

[… Read more at Sentient Media ]