The University of North Texas took a courageous health stance on behalf of their student body — unveiling a new vegan cafeteria called The Mean Green Cafe. The full-service cafeteria will experiment with veganism, hoping this implementation will help students critically think about what they put in their bodies.
The menu eschews animal products, like meat, milk, and eggs and instead features vegetarian soups, paninis and vegetarian sushi. The university’s dining services reports that so far, many of the students who eat there aren’t necessarily vegan, but just want to eat healthy.
The idea for a purely vegan cafeteria isn’t new. Aramark, which is the largest provider of cafeteria food for American colleges, feels that students want to see more variety in cafeteria menus.
According to ABC News, a 2004 survey of college students by Aramark showed that one of every four students surveyed wanted vegan meal options on college campuses.
Even though strict veganism is still a diet that causes many strong emotions on both sidesof the nutrition debate, one thing is for certain, veganism will lay a healthier foundation for many students in their everyday lives.
Keith Ayoob, director of the nutrition clinic at the Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said it makes sense that college students would want to explore new diets.
“Lots of young people experiment,” Ayoob said. “They do it with booze, drugs… why not a new way of eating?”
The doctor’s disturbing quote illuminates the medical industry’s resistance to encompassing a wide range of ideas in regards to alternative diets, even if the diet encourages a healthier lifestyle. Vegans usually will take on a fitness regimen, which helps humans improve their internal systems and makes vegans outperform their omnivore counterparts in studies.
While it is true that sedentary vegans, on average, aren’t any healthier than people engaging in the risky Standard American Diet (S.A.D.), it’s worth it note that, more than likely, according to PETA, vegans will help save at least one hundred animals who suffer needlessly in factory farms.
It will take a lot more than a vegan cafeteria to help America’s youth fight the myriad of factors that cause obesity and food-related illnesses, but this is one hell of a first step.