Fall is in the air and with it comes the delicious harvest of winter squash, dark leafy greens, root vegetables and more that veggie lovers look forward to year after year. And it’s not just vegetarians delighting in the bounty. Although vegetarianism, at least among the ever-influential millennial demographic, is estimated to be as high as 12%, a whopping 43% of 18- to 34-year olds report they often seek meatless meals when dining away from home.
But it’s not just taste that’s bringing more plants to campus plates. Eating less meat has significant health and environmental benefits, too. California Polytechnic State University in San Louis Obispo, California, is another institution of higher education that’s offering more vegetarian options and using Meatless Monday to promote them, not only because students are asking for such fare, but because it helps the school meet their health and sustainability goals.
“[Meatless Monday] encourages students to focus on plant-based options, educating students on the health, sustainability and environmental factors associated with eating less meat,” says Megan Coats, RD, the registered dietitian and sustainability coordinator for campus dining at Cal Poly. “My role as Cal Poly’s registered dietitian is to expose students to a variety of foods that support a healthful diet, including some they have never thought about or tried before,” she continues. Coats plans to tempt her diners with restaurant-quality dishes such as rainbow chard ragu and gnocchi with ricotta cheese and fall mushrooms when Cal Poly’s Meatless Monday promotion launches later this month.