Berlin goes vegetarian: (almost) meat-free menus in university canteens

Sep 6 2021, 12:28 | by Gambero Rosso
Students are clamouring for vegan options in the canteens and the university is accommodating them. Here's how menus are changing in Berlin.

Berlin’s vegetarian university canteens

No more sausages and schnitzels, but pulses, cereals and lots of vegetables: the vegetarian revolution has spread to university canteens, turning again the spotlight on the age-old issue of excessive meat consumption, now part of the daily news. The decision comes from Berlin, where students will now have different vegetarian and vegan options, designed to reduce environmental impact. The initiative was welcomed by more than thirty Berlin canteens and cafés whose regular clientele is students, and will start next October. We cannot yet speak of a turning point, but 68% of the weekly menu will be vegan, 28% vegetarian and only 2% fish-based, plus a single meat option offered four days a week.

Vegetable options

Instead, buckwheat and spelt soups with grilled sweet potatoes, marinated beetroot and sesame seeds, tomato and cheese pasta bake and many other specialities designed to balance the protein intake from meat and maintain a healthy, balanced diet. The project was launched at the request of the students, who expressed the need for a wider and more varied menu. "They have repeatedly approached us with the request for a more climate-friendly offer at their canteens", said Daniela Kummle of Studierendenwerk, an organisation supporting students in Berlin.

The success of vegetarian canteens

Thus, 'a new nutritional concept' has been developed to accommodate an increasing number of people: not only vegans and vegetarians will enjoy the benefits of this change, but also people with food intolerances or allergies who cannot eat dairy products or eggs. More generally, young people's food practices are changing, as Kummle points out: " The great success of the vegetarian and vegan canteens made students’ consumer behaviour clear". The change of course starts in Berlin, but many other German university canteens and cafeterias have already changed their menus to offer more plant-based options due to high demand.

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