Student demand for plant-based food options has led the University of Waterloo (UW) in Ontario, Canada, to reformulate the menu at on-campus restaurant Frsh. Once an eatery that served animal-based dishes, Frsh reformulated its menu this fall and now offers flatbreads, salad bowls, and hot bowls, and allows students to customize meals by choosing vegan cheese, sauce, and protein such as pulled jackfruit, candied tempeh bacon, or smoked tofu. Only a few optional dairy-based toppings, such as cheese, yogurt, and pesto, remain. “We meet with [students] regularly throughout the year and there’s always more requests for vegan and vegetarian foods,” UW Executive Chef Gordon Cooledge said. “So, we said, let’s make a place that’s dedicated only to vegan and vegetarian so it’s always reliable, they know they can go there and get it any time.” The new Frsh menu is also supported by the university’s sustainability office. “We’ve looked at lots of research and the data behind it,” UW Sustainability Manager Mat Thijssen said, “and the environmental impacts of a plant-based diet—versus a meat-based diet—are far better.” The initiative follows a study conducted earlier this year by Dalhousie University in Halifax, which revealed that 40 percent of Canadians who identify as vegan or vegetarian are under the age of 35.
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