March 4, 2024

Nearly Half Of US Campus Menus Are About To Turn Plant-Based


University food services giant Sodexo has pledged to turn nearly half of its menu plant-based to reduce its carbon footprint

Students sit on the ground eating salad with their text books

Reading Time: 2 minutes Sodexo has pledged to offer more plant-based menu options for students. Credit: Adobe Stock

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In a bid to tackle the climate crisis, hundreds of US universities will offer students more plant-based options by 2025.

Sodexo aims to transition 42 percent of its campus menu offerings to plant-based in the next three years. The food services and facilities management company supplies to more than 1,000 universities, colleges, and independent schools in the US.

The move follows a 2020 study of Sodexo’s environmental impact. The internal analysis found that 70 percent of the company’s carbon footprint was linked to animal-based foods.

Animal agriculture is responsible for emitting 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. But research indicates plant-based food production is far kinder to the planet.

Just on an individual basis, eating lamb once or twice a week emits around 339 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions per year. (That’s the same as driving a petrol car more than 860 miles.) But eating the same amount of tofu only emits 12 kilograms, according to the BBC’s climate impact calculator.

Moving universities away from meat

The new commitment from Sodexo is part of its Plant-Based Takeover partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

The initiative sees Sodexo’s chefs undergo HSUS-led training in plant-based food preparation. They then go on to create nutritious, balanced menu offerings for university dining halls. Such takeovers are already in progress at 140 educational facilities.

Karla Dumas, HSUS’ director of foodservice innovation, praised Sodexo for making significant efforts to reduce its impact on the planet.

She said: “Any sustainability plan that’s meant to create real change—and not just be greenwashing jargon—will center on shifting from a meat-heavy menu to one that’s focused on plant-based entrées.”

“I’m thankful to Sodexo for being a leader in the industry by committing to the tangible changes required to meet greenhouse gas emission goals,” she added, before declaring that “Sodexo has found a formula for success.”

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