Published: March 3, 2023 By

Are you curious about incorporating more plant-based meals and snacks into your diet? Eating less meat and dairy can benefit the environment and your health. Whether you live on or off campus, you can find ways to transition your food routine to include more plant-based options. If you do not see the type of plant-based foods you desire, fill out this feedback form so we can better serve you and the planet. 

Benefits of a plant-based diet

Consuming fewer animal products offers many benefits

  • Reduce carbon emissions. The animal-based food industry produces one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Expand the global food supply. If we reduced the consumption of animal products and increased plant-based food production, the global food supply could increase by up to 49% without expanding the amount of land used for production.
  • Reduce water usage. Producing animal-based food products uses more water than plant-based foods. Consuming fewer animal products could reduce water usage for food production by 50%.
  • Decrease the amount of pollution in waterways, streams and oceans. Animal-based food production uses more packaging and produces more waste which contaminates natural water supplies.
  • Improve health outcomes and lower the risk of diseases. A plant-based diet promotes health benefits and can lead to a longer life.
  • Save money on food costs. Meat and dairy products typically cost more than whole plant-based foods.

An image of vegan and lacto-ove food labels in the C4C dining center on campusTips from Campus Dining’s registered dietitian 

Any changes in your daily food intake can impact your nutrition. As a student, you are busy and need fuel to maintain your energy levels, immune system and overall health. 

CU Boulder has a Campus Dining Services dietitian who can provide nutritional consultations in person and online, including for vegan and vegetarian diets. 

Here are tips to help you incorporate more plant-based foods into your routine.

  • People who eat a lot of meat may need to transition slowly by substituting meat dishes once or twice a week and adding more plant-based meals as desired.
  • Add plant-based foods high in protein, like tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, soy products and seeds.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors, especially orange, red and dark green vegetables. Colorful vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  • Enjoy more whole plant-based healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds and olives.  Healthy fats help with mood stabilization, mental health, cardiovascular health, reduced inflammation, increased immunity and feeling full.  

Dining center food hacks for plant-based eating

The campus dining centers make it easy to transition to a plant-based diet or add more plant-based foods. 

Here are a few dining center hacks.

  • At the C4C, ask for a vegetarian breakfast burrito and add chorizo tofu or pinto beans for protein. For lunch or dinner, grab a hummus in the refrigerator by the Kosher station and use it on a sandwich at the deli bar instead of meat.
  • At Sewell, Village Center and C4C, ask for a tofu scramble with vegetables at the breakfast scramble bar. Depending on the day, you can also enjoy a selection of vegan pastries, like coconut bread or apple strudel.
  • At all dining centers on campus, every station is required to label all food items. Vegan foods will have V and lacto-ovo vegetarian foods will have LO on the labels.
  • Libby on the Run, CU on the Run and the Alley at Farrand carry many vegan entrees, sides and snacks. They also offer vegan soups, salads and wraps to go.
  • Utilize the menus and the vegetarian and vegan filter functions in Nutrislice to plan your meals ahead.

Moderation with plant-based eating

Eating fewer animal products doesn’t mean you must adopt a vegan lifestyle. Everyone can decide for themselves how they prefer to eat. Maybe you want to start participating in Meatless Mondays or try not eating meat or dairy at lunch each day. There is no right or wrong way to explore plant-based eating. 

When making changes to your food habits, consider how those changes may affect your energy levels and nutrition. Start slow with the transition and monitor how you feel. Also, remember that you should not feel stress or shame about your food choices. What you eat is personal, and you can decide what works best for you.

To learn more about the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, connect with the Environmental Center. Schedule an appointment with the campus dining dietitian if you want to learn more about the nutritional benefits of a plant-based diet or need support in transitioning to a plant-based diet.