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Berlin university canteens expand plant-based options

Adopting a more plant-based diet is one of the ways we help tackle climate change on an individual level. Universities in Berlin are well aware of that, which is why four of the city’s biggest institutions have recently decided to transition their canteens’ meals towards more climate-friendly options.

From October onwards, the 34 canteens and cafes catering to Berlin’s large student population at four different universities will offer a menu that is 68 percent vegan, 28 percent vegetarian, and 2 percent fish-based, with only one meat option offered four days a week.

As reported by The Guardian, the canteens will begin to turn away from currywurst and schnitzel in favor of more eco-friendly meals, such buckwheat and spelt bowls topped with grilled sweet potatoes, marinated beetroot and sesame seeds, or pasta bakes with tomato and cheese.

“We developed a new nutritional concept mainly because students have repeatedly approached us with the request for a more climate-friendly offer at their canteens,” said Daniela Kummle of Studierendenwerk, the organization providing economic, social, health, and cultural support to Berlin’s university students.

According to an estimate, university canteens and cafeterias across Germany currently offer 30 to 50 percent vegetarian options after years of increasing student pressure on the institutions to offer more plant-based meals. But the move towards more sustainable diets among students is particularly visible in Berlin.

In 2019, universities in the German capital fed about 5.6 million meals to students in their canteens. During that same year, a survey found that 13.5 percent of Berlin’s student population reported having a vegan diet, compared with only 1.6 percent in Germany as a whole, while a further 33 percent said they were vegetarians.

Environmental protection is becoming an increasingly urgent issue at Berlin’s universities, with the city’s Humboldt University planning to achieve climate neutrality by 2030, and Berlin’s Technical University hoping to reach the same target by 2045. 

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