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March 3, 2009

A New Generation of Mock Meats Hits Campus Cafeterias

The Humane Society of the United States

Change is coming to university cafeterias across the country. More than 350 colleges and universities are moving away from using eggs from caged hens.

Many of them made the switch after working with Josh Balk, outreach director for The HSUS's factory farming campaign. And now, he's working with schools to introduce the next generation of meat alternatives—in this case, Gardein, a vegetarian chicken substitute.

One of the latest schools to join this list is Indiana's DePauw University, which recently began featuring Gardein in selected entrées.

Josh sat down with Steve Santo, DePauw University Dining Services Manager for Sodexo, and talked with him about the new direction.

JB: DePauw has been offering students vegetarian foods for a while. What's different about using mock meat products like Gardein?

SS: There's a demand for protein-based meat alternatives, and Gardein fits the bill. These products have a meat-like texture which seems to be what people are looking for, and the quality is very, very good.

JB: How have you promoted the new items?

SS: We're featuring a "Meatless Monday" alternative in one of the stations every Monday night. We'll be featuring Gardein and other products.

JB: How have students reacted?

SS: Initial reaction was very good. "Tastes like chicken" was the main refrain heard from students. People were very positive in regard to taste, texture and flavor.

JB: How do you see meatless items fitting into your overall sustainability efforts?

SS: The growing concern with food safety, sustainability, the way food is processed and how many resources it takes to produce meat has created a market for meat alternatives. I see these products continuing to grow in demand and popularity as our society shifts its tastes to meat substitutes.


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