New study shows that plant-based is the future of schools

A new study released shows that one simple change in institutions can make a big impact. 

The study was conducted by Food for Climate League and in partnership with Better Food Foundation, Sodexo, and Boston College. It sought to determine the impact of serving plant-based meals as the “default” at Tulane University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Lehigh University.  

Making plant-based meals the default refers to individuals being served the plant-based meal automatically and having to ask for an animal-based option, instead of the other way around. This strategy helps nudge behavioural change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while still providing consumers choice and keeping consumer satisfaction. 

Key findings from the study: 

reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per day

The number of plant-based options served increased from 30% – 81.5%

With over 235 million university students worldwide who consume around 148 billion meals per year, these results show that a plant-based default can have a huge impact on achieving sustainability goals. 

Making plant-based dishes the default has been shown to be an effective strategy for widespread behaviour change across schools and also other institutions. Another study found that when plant-based is the default instead of part of a separate menu, individuals are 56% more likely to choose that option. For example, in New York City hospitals where plant-based is the default, over 50% of eligible patients are choosing the plant-based option. 

“Having plant-based foods isn’t a buzz or trend, it’s a need and demand that we deliver with creativity and flavour,”

said Brett Ladd, CEO for the Sodexo US Campus Division. 

Learn more about the study:

Interested in introducing or expanding plant-based menu options at your school, workplace, business or in your community? Learn more about supports we can provide and get in touch! 

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Nearly 3 in 4 British Columbians believe menus with plant-based options are “more inclusive”: research

Nearly 3 in 4 British Columbians believe menus with plant-based options are “more inclusive”: research

VANCOUVER, April 13, 2023 – The majority of British Columbians in the Lower Mainland have positive feelings about plant-based menu options, new polling data reveals. 

The research poll, commissioned by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) among a representative sample of Lower Mainland residents from the Angus Reid Forum, asked participants about their dietary preferences and attitudes around plant-based eating.  

73% of respondents agreed that “Food services that offer a greater variety of plant-based options are more inclusive to all”. This sentiment was shared by a majority of people regardless of their own dietary preferences; 95% of vegans or vegetarians and 71% of people following other diets agreed with the statement. 

The poll results demonstrate that the demand for plant-based options is growing, with 65% of respondents having reduced their consumption of animal products.  

Differences between age demographics indicate a growing shift toward plant-based foods over each generation – 69% of respondents aged 18-34 had reduced their animal product consumption, compared to 66% of respondents aged 35-54 and 60% of respondents aged 55+. 

“A growing number of consumers are reducing or eliminating animal-based products, with more people turning to plant-based options when they are available,” said VHS Communications Director Chantelle Archambault.  

Businesses and organizations are already moving to meet the growing demand for plant-forward foods. Many institutions that now offer plant-based menu items, such as Panago Pizza and the University of British Columbia (UBC), cite sustainability commitments as one motivation for the shift.  

“There are so many great reasons to shift towards a more plant-based diet but for us at UBC Food Services we have done this to support the health of our students and the planet,” said David Speight, Executive Chef and Culinary Director of UBC Food Services. “We know that plant-based diets can provide excellent health benefits for our students and they reduce the negative environmental impacts on our planet compared to more animal protein centric diets.” 

Other local businesses and institutions are stepping up to meet consumer demand as well. Last year, the City of Vancouver committed to exploring a 20% reduction in animal-based products in favour of plant-based foods in their municipal food purchasing, such as through catering and city-owned concessions.  

The new polling data suggests that this growing movement toward accessible, affordable, and tasty plant-based options could prompt a greater dietary shift in the future. 65% of respondents identified that they “would eat more plant-based meals if there were more tasty options available when going out to eat”. 

Speight added, “We have shifted a large percentage of our menu offerings to plant-based and our students are still asking for more. It shows a real hunger for great tasting plant-based offerings.” 

@vancouverhumane Visit for more information! #PlantBased #BCBusiness #Vegan #PlantBasedFood ♬ original sound – Vancouver Humane Society

“With the public increasingly interested in plant-forward food items and calling for corporate responsibility, we’re eager to see more businesses and organizations introduce plant-based options in the coming years to avoid being left behind,” said Archambault. 

This shift has the important added benefit of reducing the number of animals suffering for human food production.  

The VHS is offering free support to B.C.-based institutions, such as restaurants, long-term care homes, and schools, that are interesting in introducing more plant-based menu items. 

– ends –  

SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society 

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903,

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More cafes increasing plant-based milk options

More cafes increasing plant-based milk options

As the demand for plant-based foods is increasing, more cafes are responding by shifting menus.

Why are cafes shifting toward plant-based options?

A global collective of 11,000 scientists recently declared a climate emergency and pointed to six critical steps to addressing the situation. Included in the six recommendations was the assertion that “eating mostly plant-based foods while reducing the global consumption of animal products, especially ruminant livestock, can improve human health and significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions.”

Institutions that offer food service can help make it easier for consumers to access plant-based options by prioritizing those items on daily menus. One useful and effective strategy includes making the default menu option plant-based, effectively making the climate-friendly, healthy and humane option the easiest choice for consumers, while still allowing the consumer the ability to modify the default option if they so choose.

Chain cafes are shifting their menus

By 2030, Starbucks is aiming for a 50 percent reduction in its carbon emissions, water withdrawal and waste sent to landfills. “Alternative milks will be a big part of the solution,” said Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnson. “The consumer-demand curve is already shifting.”

Johnson says the company will encourage consumers to choose plant-based milk made from coconuts, almond, soy or oats, which all have a smaller environmental footprint than dairy products. In North America, 15 to 20 percent of Starbucks customers already opt for plant-based milk options.

However, the company has not yet moved to remove the additional $0.80 charge from its plant-based milk options in North America. This is a necessary next step to truly encourage a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly and animal-friendly shift.

The company’s announcement comes after an environmental assessment determined that dairy products are the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions across its operations and supply chain.

The move to prioritize plant-based milk is part of Starbucks’ updated sustainability plan, which includes a pledge to “expanding plant-based options, migrating toward a more environmentally friendly menu.” The company is currently exploring new plant-based beverages and breakfast menu items.

The coffee giant’s expanded sustainability plan and focus on plant-based foods reflects the growing need to address our food system’s contribution to climate change, the global biodiversity crisis and the high demand for meat that drives factory farming.

Tim Hortons is also recognizing the importance of offering more plant-based milk options.

As a response, Tim Hortons introduced almond milk at locations across Canada in 2020, oat milk in 2021 and soy milk at select locations. According to Tim Hortons, research shows that customers who request plant-based milks prefer almond over any other types.  

Independent cafes are leading the way

A hand holds a pink beverage in a glass mug from the top floor overlooking Kind Cafe, Vancouver.

Many smaller cafes are joining or leading this plant-based movement. One in particular is Kind Café, located on Main Street in Vancouver. This locally owned, 100% plant-based and zero-waste cafe offers a number of plant-based milk options, including a variety of nut milks.

This is an excellent example of a cafe that offers plant-based milk as their default option.

Looking to find more plant-based cafes? Visit PlantUniversity’s Animal-free shopping & eating guide!

Interested in learning more tips for expanding plant-based menu options at your school, workplace, business or in your community? Get in touch with us!

8 ways to market your plant-based meal options

8 ways to market your plant-based meal options

Getting plant-based meal options on your menu is a great first step. Now it’s time to market those items and make sure everyone has a chance to try them out! Below are eight ways to market your plant-based dishes.

#1: Consider placement in the cafeteria line.

Try making plant-based options easier to choose by putting them from and centre.

#2: Make the default dish fully plant-based.

Try doing this whenever possible in order to make it easier for people to choose plant-based meals, as opposed to the opposite where they need to know how to modify options to make them plant-based.

#3: Make “grab-and-go” options plant-based.

This helps make the plant-based choice the convenient choice, and also showcases what a complete plant-based dish can look like.

#4: Offer a promo/incentive on plant-based items.

Consider offering a slight discount, a punch card, or a draw for a gift card. This can help create excitement around choosing more plant-based options.

#5: Offer a sampling of a new plant-based item.

Offering samples can be beneficial to gain client feedback and to help promote new items. (Contact VHS for help!)

#6: Make plant-based foods a part of your institution’s animal welfare/sustainability/health goals.

Share this with staff to help reinforce the social benefits of your effort to offer more plant-based foods. Helping staff understand the “why” will create more support. (Contact VHS for a presentation!)

#7: Don’t hide plant-based dishes in a separate section on your menu.

Make plant-based dishes a part of your regular menu (e.g. Beyond burgers are sold in grocery stores next to beef burgers and plant-based milks are sold next to dairy milk)

#8: Names and descriptions of dishes are important.

Research suggests against labeling dishes as “vegetarian” or “vegan”, because it suggests those dishes are only for those who identify as veg or vegan. Instead, consider using a symbol (like a leaf) to indicate a dish is suitable for vegans.

Highlight the origin of a dish – Think Chicago-style pizza or Texas BBQ. Leveraging a food’s origin is a powerful tactic to create positive associations with a product. eg. Instead of “Low Fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup” choose “Cuban Black Bean Soup”, or instead of “Meat-Free Breakfast” choose “Field Grown Breakfast”

Flavour-based naming – highlight what a dish will taste like to increase the sensory appeal of plant-based dishes. Eg. ‘Smoky Soul Chili’, ‘Fiery Jerk Jackfruit’.

Use positive and indulgent descriptors:

  • Studies show that positive terms and narratives like “fresh”, “seasonal”, “farm to table”, “slow-roasted” are better received than language like “reduced calorie”, “lighter choice”.
  • Use indulgent terms like “creamy”, “warming”, “crunchy”, “smooth” and “sticky”.

Video library

Check out the video library on our PlantU Platform for more educational content about the benefits of a plant-based diet.

4 plant-based menu planning tips

4 plant-based menu planning tips

Increasing your operation’s offering of plant-based menu items makes good business sense – it leads to more inclusive menus (more people can enjoy a plant-based dish than a vegetarian or meat-based dish) and can complement corporate social responsibility goals by reflecting a commitment to protecting animal welfare, the planet and public health.

Below are 4 tips for featuring plant-based dishes:


Start by examining your current menu.

Are there any options that can easily be modified to be fully plant-based (containing no animal products)?


The key to a great plant-based dish is flavour and familiarity.

Many of us are already consuming plant-based meals without even realizing it! Global cuisines from Indian, to Chinese, to Mexican, to Italian feature flavour-packed plant-based recipes. Consider offering familiar dishes, such as pasta primavera, black bean burritos, stir fries, chili and coconut milk curry. Other popular dishes can often be made fully plant-based with just minor tweaks to the recipe.


Tap into current food trends.

Eg. “The Bowl” – a grain, legume, vegetables and a flavourful sauce. That’s all you need to make a filling and delicious dish, and the options are endless (eg. Thai soba noodle bowl with peanut sauce, Mexican sweet potato bowl with a cashew lime cream, Crispy chickpea bowl with lemon tahini dressing, sushi bowl, falafel bowl, etc.)


Explore cooking techniques.

Explore how cooking techniques that are often applied to meat-based dishes can be utilized in making a plant-based dish. For example, marinating, searing, grilling, BBQ and smoking.