Plant-Based Dining Halls Are a Win for All

Eve Wetlaufer

In his inauguration speech, President Andrew Hamilton challenged the audience with a question: “How do we shape our University’s operations to be exemplary citizens of the city and the world while doing our part as faithful stewards of our environment?”

A plant-based dining hall — where all the food is vegan — would be a great place to start. The good news is, student activists have recently come together to present exactly such a plan. The campaign, spearheaded by the Animal Welfare Collective last week, already has the support of numerous other clubs and has more than 700 pledges from an online survey conducted.

The plan makes excellent sense for three main reasons: first, a plant-based dining hall is a big win for students. Numerous campuses around the country have started offering vegan options, and according to Ken Botts at the Humane Society of the United States, these selections have been surprisingly popular. Chef Jennifer DiFrancesco at Canisius College in Buffalo said in an interview that a plant-based mac and cheese is the number one sold-out item in the school’s entire dining hall system. As an added bonus, a plant-based dining hall would also be ideal for kosher students, students with certain allergies to meats or those interested in the health benefits of eating less meat.

Also, consider that a plant-based dining hall would likely increase the number of students using a meal plan, which is a win for our dining services. Take the case of the country’s first plant-based dining hall at the University of North Texas, which launched in 2011: within weeks, it saw meal plan sales increase by 35 percent. The excitement hasn’t waned since, and that dining hall now serves roughly 4,500 students a day. After UNT’s success story, many other colleges followed suit: American University, University of California at Berkeley and Arizona State University all opened similar dining halls. University of California at Santa Barbara, where the new vegan dining hall has been so successful, students even created a Yelp page.


A plant-based dining hall would have a positive impact on the world beyond the NYU community. Science has firmly established that eating a plant-based diet is good for our health and that eating a more plant-based diet is the most environmentally friendly diet. For instance, the land required to feed a vegan for one year is one-sixteenth of an acre, compared to 18 times that for a meat-eater. In short, a plant-based dining hall would allow many NYU students to actively live out the widely held values of sustainability, health and compassion. If you agree, you can sign the petition. Join us as we give a tangible answer to President Hamilton’s important question.

Eve Wetlaufer is a member of the NYU Animal Welfare Collective. Email her at [email protected].



  1. It is not what you eat, but how much you eat and the amount of exercise you get that effects your longevity. Your genetic makeup also has a lot to do with how long and how well you live. The latest vegan fad is not only silly, it is dangerous. Men and children just can’t get enough protein from a plant based diet. Some parents have even been convicted for child abuse for feeding their children a vegan diet.
    Meat and fish are the best source of protein. This is supported by just almost every nutritionist who promote a balanced diet, including meat or fish. It is also supported by the fact that the average life expectancy for a meat eater is almost identical to vegetarians and vegans. There is one off the wall report from the ADA, that seems to support a plant based diet. This report is confused and can’t even tell the difference between vegan and vegetarian. It also does not make an effort to explain why a plant based diet is so much better then one that includes meat and fish. On the other hand there are hundreds of nutritionist reports, supporting a balanced diet, including meat. There is even a university report that says people who do not eat meat are not as healthy and more depressed then meat eaters. and
    To try to blame global warming on cow farts and burps is silly. Fossil fuels are the culprits. The reports blaming animals, fail to balance the CO2 produced by animals with the CO2 used by plants that the animals eat. As far as methane gas, the best way to control that is by modern farming methods that controls what the animals eat. Please read this:
    This EPA report says all agriculture including plant production causes 9% of the greenhouse gases. That means fossil fuel are the real cause of greehouse gasses.
    Finally, there actually is no such thing as a vegan, since everything from glue to beer uses animal products.
    Even nature abhors vegans. Felines and k9s need meat to survive.

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