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Students Spoke Up and Aramark Listened

By Sharon Chen
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Driven in large part by students, college campuses around the nation are increasingly focusing on sustainability and healthy eating – and Aramark, one the largest food suppliers in the country, is finally starting to listen. In response to student feedback and dining surveys, Aramark is rolling out vegan dining options in many of the college campuses it currently serves; the company is offering healthier, more nutritious vegan meals that are also good for the environment.

Decreasing meat consumption, a hallmark of veganism, benefits the environment as well: according to Vassar student Brooke Thomas, the co-president of Vassar Animal Rights Coalition, “animals require far greater land, water, and food requirements than plants do and for all of the animals that are raised, many pounds of plant materials are required to feed those animals. Stopping the mass production of animals to be eaten…would require less land and water, reduce greenhouse gas emis­sions, and produce less waste.”

Whatever reasons one may have for embracing a vegan diet, Aramark’s new focus on healthier eating and a healthier environment shows the power that students, and higher ed, have to lead on sustainability. By uniting around an issue and taking action on it – in the form of conversations, educational campaigns, providing feedback and driving publicity – we can all take important steps towards a healthier environment. 

Aramark introduces vegan dining initiative

Shelia Hu | The Miscellany News | October 21, 2015

To many students, the quality of dining on campus has seen a downward trend this year, particularly regarding healthy and sustain­able eating. With the recent announcement of Aramark’s latest national initiative, however, the chance to change their reputation on campus may be coming.

According to Aramark Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Development Scott Zahren, the issues of wellness and sustainability have been increasingly prevalent issues in the minds of students. Zahren explained, “Based on infor­mation gathered from Aramark’s proprietary customer feedback platform and dining surveys, the number of students interested in vegan op­tions has continued to steadily increase over the past several years” (Latest Vegan News, “Ar­amark Offers New Vegan Options to Over 500 College Campuses,” 08.31.15). In light of such feedback, the Philadelphia-based food supplier has responded by testing out new dining options in many of the 500 college campuses it currently serves.

College diets commonly consist of fast low-protein meals. With this initiative, Ara­mark is attempting to help students transition to healthier diets by offering more hearty, nu­tritious vegan meals that are better for students as well as for the environment. Some of the new menu options served on various campuses Ar­amark supplies now include tofu-potato hash, vegan home-style pancakes, butternut and black bean chili, spiced vegan quinoa and vegan pea­nut butter cookies (Latest Vegan News). Accord­ing to Zahren, by adding more protein-rich veg­an meal options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, many students may be less inclined to go for the dairy or meat products throughout the day.

Vegan diets have, however, already become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among college students. Though not originally viewed as a legitimate lifestyle choice, vegan di­ets now boast a substantial amount of support not only from the health-conscious, but from the environmentally-conscious as well. Many agree now that the choice to go vegan is the choice to do one’s part in promoting animal rights and sus­tainable consumption. Co-President of Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) Brooke Thom­as ’17 explained the environmental impact of the meat industry. She said, “Animal agriculture is responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions while all transportation is only responsible for about 13%. 55% of the water used in the United States is for animal agriculture.”

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