AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin has set a precedent in sustainable campus dining by becoming the first institution in the nation to fulfill the Forward Food pledge with the Humane Society of the United States. UT Austin now offers 50% plant-based meals on campus, with delicious and innovative recipes catering to a variety of dietary preferences. This milestone was celebrated with a special event held at the Kinsolving Dining Hall, attended by UT Austin staff, HSUS representatives and members of the campus community.

Chef J. Keith Morrison, director of culinary for the University of Texas at Austin, explained that their collaboration with the HSUS was one more step on a path to creating sustainable and ethical food sourcing at UT Austin.

“After joining the Menus of Change collaborative in 2020, we aligned our goals with the initiative by focusing on expanding our offering of healthy, nutritious, sustainable and plant-based entrée options,” said Morrison. “These goals are directly in line with the Humane Society's pledge marking our commitment to offer 50% plant-based meals by 2025. As an institution of higher education, we take pride in our efforts to drive change for a better, healthier tomorrow on campuses across the country in collaboration with The Menus of Change University Research Collaborative, the National Association of College and University Food Services, the HSUS and other partners.”

At the celebratory event, students and staff were able to engage with some of the HSUS team while enjoying plant-based tacos and other delicious fare. Students expressed excitement for the collaboration and variety of food UT Austin has to offer.

“Witnessing students' positive reactions to the plant-based taco sampling at the event was incredibly gratifying; it reinforced our commitment to continuing to expand our plant-based offerings,” said Cecilia Raatz, sustainability coordinator for UT Austin’s Housing and Dining department.

Plant-based dining is rising in demand among young people as the environmental, health and animal welfare benefits are realized—in fact, nearly 80% of college students say they eat plant-based meals at least once a week, with 60% saying they want to eat more plant-based foods, according to a study by Aramark.

UT Austin freshman Morgan Lenamond said, “It’s so nice to always know that there is always going to be an option for me in the dining hall which isn’t always the case in other places, off campus, like restaurants!”

Catering to the demand, UT Austin emphasizes inclusivity and availability for their diverse student population, and they will continue to collaborate with the HSUS to promote plant-based eating.

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