DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The University of North Texas is setting an unprecedented example for college dining. This semester the University of North Texas, in Denton, opened an all-vegan cafeteria.
The dining hall doesn’t serve any animal products, including cheese, milk or even honey.
The “Mean Greens” cafeteria is a hit with students and with many in the Denton community, who are now going to the university for lunch.
“I didn’t have a lot of experience with vegan foods back home, because my family is full of carnivores,” UNT freshman and Tulsa native Ariel Newman explained. “But I think it’s a lot healthier and it’s a lot better for the world to cut back on the amount of meat in our diet.”
Kitchen staff and even the Head Chef at Mean Greens admit they’ve had to learn a new way of cooking.
“I was always taught you have to have butter, eggs, and cream to make things taste good and work,” said Chef Wanda White, who trained as a pastry chef in Paris. “I had to do a lot of research and homework.”
All of the dishes in the cafeteria’s buffet are made entirely from plant-based products.
The pizza is made without meat or cheese, the cake without eggs, and all of the vegetables on the menu are served without butter.
The cafeteria even has soft serve ice cream, made with soy instead of cow’s milk, but some students say they can’t tell a difference.
“It’s very good!” said sophomore Scott Gitthens, of Austin. “I’m not a vegan but I like to have the healthier options.”
“I used to be a vegetarian and I quit so I’m trying again, and this cafeteria makes it really easy,” Newman said, “I think this coupled with walking all over campus will keep me in shape.”
The UNT Director of Special Projects for Dining Services, Ken Botts, told CBS 11 News that everything they do in the dining halls is student-driven. The idea for the vegan cafeteria was presented to them through a food advisory committee, but is apparently being enjoyed by a variety of Denton residents.
“At lunch time every seat is full and we’ve actually gotten a huge response from the community as well people saying ‘hey can I come eat there?’” Botts said.
While students planted the concept, UNT made an unprecedented move by branching out and opening the vegan cafeteria. Botts said he knows of no other college campus with a cafeteria of the like.
“I think it’s a really cool option to have,” Gitthens said. “And I could see a lot of other college campuses follow suit.”
The students and staff aren’t the only ones who have embraced the eclectic cuisine; vegan dining is even growing on the chef. “It’s been very interesting. Very rewarding for me,” White said.
The “Mean Greens” cafeteria is open to the public during lunch and dinner.