Princeton Dining focuses on plant-forward menus, even for breakfast.

Video: 5 plant-forward facts about dining at Princeton

Nourishing, sustainable, delicious food shapes menus and minds.

Princeton Campus Dining nourishes people and planet from Princeton University on Vimeo.

Thanks to Princeton Campus Dining’s plant-forward attitude about food, tomorrow’s leaders who are studying now at Princeton are gaining awareness about the global issue of what we eat. To Smitha Haneef, executive director of campus dining at Princeton University, a vibrant, colorful, plant-forward meal empowers the eater to “feel ready to go and take on whatever the next goal is in your own life.” Here are some facts about the program, and to learn more, check out a video here

1. Princeton starts the day in a plant-forward way

Plants, legumes and grains are top of mind for Campus Dining at Princeton, and that starts with the first meal of the day. Charcuterie, a selection of cheeses and a gorgeous display of freshly cut fruit are available at the Butler/Wilson College dining hall. This type of breakfast is really appreciated by students from Europe, Haneef says, as this is the way many of them grew up eating breakfast. Meanwhile, at the Rockefeller/Mathey College dining hall, made-to-order congee bowls are topped with sesame oil, nuts, scallions and white, flaky fish.

2. Campus dining draws on global cuisine to be more plant-forward

Congee is just one of many dishes inspired by a global approach that’s vastly more plant-forward than the standard American diet.

“American menus are written with an emphasis on the center of plate being an animal protein,” Haneef says. “Global menus are written with diverse ingredients on a single plate, and texture and taste and color; it’s not just focused on that 10-ounce or 8-ounce piece of protein.”

3. Future leaders are receiving nourishment

When Princeton Campus Dining engages with the community, there’s an opportunity to touch the future in a unique way.

“In a living-learning community where we educate and inform a disproportionate amount of world leaders and thought leaders, we ought to take care of their own individual health and also expose them to some of the global challenges, and food is a global challenge.”

4. The Greening Dining student group pushes sustainability further

Since 2002, students in the Greening Dining student group have the opportunity to voice their concerns about food waste, processed foods and the role that food plays in community. One student in the group, who grew up in Japan, was surprised to see how much food his American classmates throw into the garbage. That sparked him to get interested in the issue of sustainability. 

5. The director of dining encourages active participation from students

One quality of an in-tune, effective leader in the campus dining world is the ability to not just listen to students but also to draw them out and get them thinking about their world.

Haneef reaches out to students and asks them to “build a personal relationship with your food…Participate in the journey we are in, in a way that we can make a collective impact to a challenge that is global.”

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