Plant-Based Options On US College Campuses Are Increasing Exponentially
A group of three students eating food together A major US foodservice company is making steps to reduce its carbon footprint - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

Plant-Based Options On US College Campuses Are Increasing Exponentially

College students across the US will soon have more plant-based food to choose from

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2 Minutes Read

Aramark, the largest foodservice company in the US, has announced that it is committed to increasing the number of plant-based options on its college menus by 2025. 

Working with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the catering giant will increase animal-free meal choices—so that they make up almost half (44 percent) of all offerings—across more than 250 educational institutions.

The two have worked together for more than a decade to improve food options in colleges and universities. HSUS has also previously collaborated with fellow educational food service provider Sodexo to facilitate a global shift towards plant-based consumption.

For Aramark, the HSUS partnership plays a major role in its company-wide environmental commitments. They are in place to create a 25 percent reduction in the carbon footprints of menus served by the provider in the US by 2030.

“Aligned with our existing responsible sourcing commitments, this new target represents another step on our journey toward net zero emissions,” Alan Horowitz, vice president of sustainability at Aramark, said in a statement. 

“Increasing plant-based proteins, while decreasing animal proteins, is a major factor in helping us reduce food-related emissions and is responsive to changing consumer dietary preferences.”

Reducing students’ climate impact

Animal agriculture drives at least 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, though some climate research places this figure much higher. Comparatively, plant-based food production has been shown to result in far fewer harmful emissions.

In a study conducted earlier this year, researchers discovered that UK consumers replacing beef with pea protein twice a week would reduce methane emissions by 2.4 million metric tons per year. 

To facilitate students’ climate-conscious food choices, Aramark is providing enhanced culinary training to its staff, which includes instructional videos created by HSUS.

“Aramark has made great strides in its commitment to tackle climate change. By setting tangible goals to introduce more plant-based foods, the company has shown a level of action and transparency that should please both consumers and client institutions,” Karla Dumas, senior director of food service innovation at HSUS, said in a statement. 

Will the UK follow suit?

Students from 20 UK universities came together in July this year to demand more plant-based food options in on-site restaurants. Campus protests revealed students’ frustration at the perceived climate crisis “complicity,” on the part of their educational institutions. A particular bugbear was the continued serving of environmentally damaging meat dishes in canteens.

The coalition of learners hope that by the end of the year, every UK university will be aware of their responsibility to increase plant-based catering options. The campaign is also going global, with students in Australia and the Netherlands looking to replicate protests.

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The Author

Amy Buxton

Amy enjoys reporting on vegan news and sustainability initiatives. She has a degree in English literature and language and is raising a next-gen vegan daughter.

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