CulinArt at Stony Brook University has created a Plant-based Eating Road Map that directs students to nearly 350 plant-based options at both residential dining centers and retail outlets across the campus in order to help them find foods that come primarily from plants, including fruits and vegetables, beans, seeds, oils, whole grains, nuts and legumes. It was emailed to all resident students and promoted via social media and on the dining website’s wellness section. Then, once students reach a dining location, they can seek out items accompanied by signage indicating “I’m Plant Based,” as a menu identifier with nutritional information.
Unlike a vegetarian or vegan diet that mostly or completely eliminates meat or dairy, a plant-based diet derives the majority of food from plant sources with a limited (or no) amount of animal protein. Examples of dishes from retail outlets included in the guide include Chickpea “Tuna” Bagel Sandwiches at Peet’s Coffee, Vegan Grain Salads and Hummus Wraps at the Market at West Side convenience store, Vegetable Samosas, Pakoras and Papadum at Tadka—the Essence of India and Jackfruit Sancocho and sides at the Latin cuisine concept La Olla.
Meanwhile, options from residential dining include the Rooted station that is dedicated to a plant-based lifestyle and which CulinArt has recharged with all new center-of-the-plate-worthy menu options focused on wellness and sustainability that are available across all dayparts and designed to appeal to all diners.
“We were looking for a way to help students navigate the dining locations with ease when it comes to plant-based eating,” says Rich Maha, CulinArt’s regional director of operations. “With the increased focus on a plant-forward movement, we felt the need to create a guide that showcased the hundreds of options we offer.”
Photo: Signage indicating “I’m Plant Based” is used as a menu identifier in dining locations, complete with nutritional information about the dish being highlighted.
Photo credit: CulinArt
Consumption of plant-based meals tends to be highest at locations offering ethnic cuisines, the company says. For example, more than 28% of sales at the Indian concept Tadka are of plant-based dishes, as are 23% of sales at the Delancey Street kosher deli, 21% at a noodle bar and 14% at Cocina Fresca. Conversely, at locations where grilled items or sandwiches dominate the menu, plant- based sales are only about 5%.
A team of CulinArt chefs worked with Laura Martorano, MS, RD, CDN, CulinArt’s registered dietitian at Stony Brook, to thoroughly research menus and facilities to ensure every applicable location and all their options were included in the guide. She also shares and reviews the guide and educates students about potential health and nutritional benefits when following a plant-based lifestyle.