Vegans rare, but tofu abounds

Shebani Rao ’12 enjoys a vegan meal in the Silliman College dining hall.
Shebani Rao ’12 enjoys a vegan meal in the Silliman College dining hall. Photo by Drew Henderson.

General Tso’s chicken is Alex Allouche’s ’13 favorite Chinese food entrée. But when Yale’s dining halls replace the dish’s chicken with tofu, General Tso’s loses its appeal for Allouche.

“There’s nothing more disappointing than coming into the dining hall, seeing General Tso and realizing that it’s tofu, not chicken,” Allouche said.

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According to the most recent Yale Dining survey, conducted this past September, only 1.3 percent of Yale students identify as having a vegan diet.
According to the most recent Yale Dining survey, conducted this past September, only 1.3 percent of Yale students identify as having a vegan diet.
Some students question the over-representation of strictly vegan items in residential college dining halls.
Some students question the over-representation of strictly vegan items in residential college dining halls.

According to the most recent Yale Dining survey, conducted this past September, only 1.3 percent of Yale students identify as having a vegan diet, absent of all animal products. And yet, often to the chagrin of meat-eating Yalies like Allouche, vegan dishes usually represent one of six or seven entrée options at each hot meal served in Yale’s residential college dining halls.

While there is always a vegan option in the 12 residential colleges and Commons at each meal, this can sometimes just be the salad bar, said Regenia Phillips, director of residential options for Yale Dining. She defended the value of meeting vegan students’ needs, noting that non-vegan students also opt for vegan dishes. But while Dining administrators said providing vegan options is not inefficient, some students said they question the relative over-representation of vegan options on Yale’s menus.


Within Yale’s residential colleges, space limits the number of entrée options that can be served on a given night, and some students interviewed said that, given the small population of vegans at Yale, it is not necessary to cook vegan food in each dining hall.

“[The vegan options] take room away from other food that tastes better,” Ed Shaer ’13 said, noting that because each college’s servery space is limited, he would rather see an additional non-vegan option in the place of the vegan option.

Other non-vegan students echoed similar concerns, noting the inefficiency of serving vegan options in each of the 12 residential college dining halls and Commons. One alternative, suggested by Hayden Stein ’13, would be to cook vegan food for fewer dining halls, such as Commons and two residential college dining halls.

“If they’re spending less resources on vegan options,” Stein said, “then [Yale Dining] could spend more resources toward making regular food better.”

But five vegan students interviewed disagreed, noting that the fairness of Yale Dining’s current policy has allowed them to bond with members of their residential colleges during meals.

Eitan Fischer ’13, who is vegan, said eating in the Jonathan Edwards College dining hall is one of the most important things he does to meet and interact with the students in his college. Fischer noted that if vegan food were taken out of his dining hall, he would feel “unwelcomed” and would miss out on part of his college experience.

Jonathan Holloway, master of Calhoun College and chair of the Council of Masters, likewise said the Council of Masters opposes a policy in which different colleges would offer different menus.

“What the majority of [the residential college masters] feel is that keeping one college menu different from the others sets up feelings of inequality among the colleges that does a disservice to all,” he said in an e-mail.

Furthermore, Shebani Rao ’12 added, Yale Dining could risk contradicting its message of sustainability if it removes vegan food from dining halls.

“[Taking away vegan food] doesn’t go along with Yale’s own mission to promote sustainable food,” Rao said, “because a lot of the arguments for veganism are environmental arguments.”


While current Yale students know a Yale with largely consistent food options across all the dining halls, this system has not always been the case.

Yale Dining has only served the same menus across the residential college dining halls since 2006. Before then, as a part of the Yale Sustainable Food Project, Berkeley College had the only dining hall serving a menu of local and organic foods. Although the expansion of the YSFP was costly for Yale Dining, administrators said at the time that they took the action in the name of equity and environmental protection.

Today, Phillips said Yale Dining is still open to considering different dining options across the 12 colleges. Still, she said, the vegan option does not detract from non-vegans’ dining experiences. She added that many students, whether they identify as vegan, vegetarian or neither, nonetheless eat the vegan option the dining hall serves. Therefore, she said, producing the vegan option is not inefficient for Yale Dining.

Similarly, Holloway said having a unified menu — including vegan options — across the dining halls helps Yale Dining and the University as a whole to reduce costs.

“Buying in large quantities helps reduce cost and also allows growers/producers to minimize their own costs,” Holloway said in an e-mail, adding that these savings are then passed along to the University.

Of greater concern to Yale Dining, Phillips said, is fairness to all students. This includes allowing all students to take part in the residential college experience by eating in their dining halls.

“Why would you make them leave the family relationship of their college?” Phillips said.


In some ways, dining options at Yale already isolate students with specific diets.

The Joseph Slifka Center Dining Hall has been serving kosher meals in some form to the Yale community since 1995 to fulfill Jewish dietary requirements, Eric Samuels, who runs student outreach for the Slifka Center, said in an e-mail.

But, Samuels added, Slifka is open to any student on a Yale meal plan. Some non-Jewish students with special diets find their dietary needs best met at Slifka, he said. These students include Smith Shah ’13, who has been vegetarian since his birth because he follows Jainism.

Because the Slifka Dining hall serves a vegetarian option at every meal, Shah said he tries to eat at Slifka four out of every five weekdays. Though Shah said he thinks the vegetarian options in the residential college dining halls are adequate, he described them as “repetitive.”

“It’s always nice to have somewhere like Slifka,” Shah said, “where it feels like they cater to vegetarians and it tastes home-cooked.”

While it may seem feasible for vegan options to be allowed in only one dining hall, Phillips said there is no intention to make vegan students leave the “family relationship of their colleges” by changing the status quo. Yale students who do not follow a vegan diet still have something to gain from trying vegan food, she said, which will hopefully broaden their culinary horizons.

“We have some very good global cuisine that does not have meat,” Phillips said.

For students seeking these very options, today’s vegan entrées in the residential colleges include tofu Pad Thai at lunch and chana masala at dinner.


  • Carnivore and Cheesehead

    While I realize that vegans have their own dietary needs, my definition of tasty food rarely if ever can be classified as vegan. If, for example, the dining halls were to serve General Tso’s tofu and chicken and the student were given the option between the two, I would support that. However, because of costs involved, this option is unlikely to be implemented. I will instead selfishly support fewer vegan options, and more “tasty food”, in the dining halls.

  • Well…..

    …at least they seemed to have stopped “Apple Tofu Crips”. YUCK! But seriously, General Tso’s Chicken is amazing, and its so rarely served in lieu of the tofu version. How about this. For every vegan option, there needs to be the non-vegan equivalent. Equality you say? Well here’s your opportunity! That way General Tso Chick and Tofu lovers alike can enjoy both options. What’s that costs? Oh dear….surely $14 dinner meal swipes should cover this, eh?

  • Article

    To me, this story is saying that our food quality is suffering because a minute number of Yale students think they will be precluded from bonding with their college if they can’t eat every night with them. While the majority should certainly not trample the minority, we simultaneously need to not ascribe too much importance to the latter when making policy decisions. The vast majority of the vegan options offered or unequivocally disgusting; contrary to the assertions dining staff interviewed, they are rarely touched. I love sitting in the line for lunch in Commons and watching what those ahead of me are adding to their plates. The fried rice, the beef and broccoli, the dumplings, even the vegetable lo mien are consumed consistently; the General Tso’s tofu, as the enlightened Allouche has noted, is left there wallowing in the serving pan. Seriously, the only vegan option I’ve found palatable, and have noticed an absence of, are the spring rolls. Aside from this exception, providing a vegan option effectively constitutes giving 15 or 20% of the entree serving space to 1 or 2% of the population. That isn’t the most efficient allocation of resources.

    The arguments by university officials regarding buying in bulk are misleading, because no one is arguing menu differentiation beyond offering or not offering a vegan option on a certain night. In order to mitigate the above concerns, it makes the most sense to shift around the colleges a bit – SM and BR on one night, CC and DC another – and so all the colleges can still order the raw materials for vegan options, they’ll just consume them less quickly. At minimum, I would like to see a factually based argument from Jonathan Holloway regarding dining hall costs before I believe Yale is saving money with the current configuration – it’s much too nuanced a point to settle with his current statement.

    In the larger picture, if you deviate so drastically from societal norms, comprise such a minuscule group, and demand dedicate special accommodations, you really shouldn’t expect to be satisfied without some sacrifice or effort of your own. I see a lot of the vegan students opposed to changes in the current policy because they don’t wish to be impacted negatively; it’s fair, and while I think the concerns are being exaggerated a bit (seriously, how will not having vegan options make you fell “unwelcomed”), I understand how you are benefitting from the status quo and consequently wish to maintain it. I just don’t think it is being fair to perpetuate this arrangement if reducing vegan options will benefit the 98.7 percent of the student body who chooses to consume a regular diet.

  • ’10

    Vegan food absolutely sucks. There has to be some way to accommodate their eating habits without imposing them on the rest of us. How hard would it be, for example, to make half Tso’s chicken and half Tso’s tofu?

    And really, asking the vegan kids whether they think there’s too much vegan food is like asking Lloyd Blankfein if he thinks CEO compensation is too high. Their argument about vegan food allowing them to “bond” with their classmates is a joke–I could just as easily argue that the horrible quality of the rest of the food drives me off campus to places where I can eat delicious, delicious beef, chicken, etc., and THAT prevents ME from bonding with MY classmates.

  • seriously

    I love how the previous posts are perfectly aligned. A vegan dish MUST have its non-vegan equivalent. Come on Yale dining. You charge us exorbitant costs for food here! How can 1.3% of people have this large of an affect on Yale dining? PC is out of control!

  • mostly vegetarian

    Citing the % of students who are vegan is a red herring. The vast majority of the “vegan” offerings are exactly what would be served as a vegetarian offering. Not offering good vegetarian options at every meal would impact every vegetarian and everyone who aspires to eat a mostly vegetarian diet. And for anyone who’s looking at costs, the tofu version of any given dish is always cheaper than the meat version. The meat-eaters should be thanking the vegetarians and mostly vegetarians for subsidizing their meat-eating.

  • ’12

    We must not forget that the vegan dishes are also shared by vegetarians, and together they certainly make up more than 1.3% of the student population…

  • Everything but tofu substitution

    I’m definitely no vegan (or vegetarian), but I actually don’t mind a number of the vegan options. Of this week’s entries, I’ll likely have all four of this week’s vegan options described in the article. But I can’t stand when tofu is substituted in place of meat (or worse, cheese). Tofu ravioli is the worst offender. All I ask is that instead of reworking non-vegan dishes to be vegan, focus on the dishes that were vegan to start — and are better tasting, to boot.

  • A Vegan coming from a Vegan-friendly City

    Vegan meals can be made to be incredibly delicious — it is unfortunate that those that have not had the chance to explore the highly creative realm of vegan cooking are making such selfish and shortsighted statements.

    If your only exposure to vegan food is through a college dining hall, think about how “good” your idea of vegan cuisine might be. Most of you complain about the taste of non-vegan dishes just as much. The world needs less of these blanket statements, and more open-minded people willing to go to the edge of their confort zone. Is that not why you are supposed to be here, at Yale?

    Food for thought, oh meat eaters?

  • ’13

    It’s the tofu ravioli that gets me; it’s so misleading…

  • flexitarian1

    Non vegans, at any meal you probably can choose between 9 of 10 items, whereas vegans are limited to 1 or 2 – so it is extremely selfish to suggest reducing or removing vegan food – Also supporting vegan ism is for a cause, and involves challenges and sacrifice – we crave the pizza and the cookie as much as you, so how about some empathy and tolerance – what are we to do if the vegan choices are further reduced or taken away?

  • ?

    I’ve never understood why some people are hostile to the idea of vegetarianism/veganism. Why should it matter to me what other people eat?

    It is true that it would be unfair to make vegans eat in limited dining halls. The article explained well that a lot of people socialize in their college at meal times, and to have to go somewhere else would cut them off from their college.

  • At last

    And let us never forget that outrage against nature, that abomination: Tofu Apple Crisp. You do not need to put tofu in anything. Even the vampires in twilight admit tofu is undesirable. Just make pasta instead of sphagetti with tofu meatballs. Do we really need fake meat? Vegan dishes would be much more palatable and honorable if they were truly vegetarian instead of a false spectre of evil masquerading as real meat.

  • Non-vegan

    I’m not a vegan, but contrary to the opinions mentioned above I know plenty of meat-eaters who like the vegan options. Why? First, because meat, especially beef, has a huge environmental footprint, which is one of the main reasons that we’re seeing less of it in the dining halls. It’s nice to have a non-meat protein alternative. Second, have you noticed the amount of cheese and dairy on everything, especially the vegetarian entrees? The vegan entrees are a safe alternative for students with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.

    Also, I think the vegan options this year have gotten a lot better because there’s more of an emphasis on tasty foods that happen to be vegan than on how can we try to disguise tofu as a meat product. Keep up the good work in that direction Yale dining!

  • anti-cheesehead

    The vegan option is invaluable for those of us allergic to milk or lactose intolerant. I could care less about the non-meat aspect, but man, dairy is in everything.

  • Yale 08

    Ugh, vegans.

    Is there a worse class of eaters?

  • Leah

    I’ll be honest, I’m glad there is a proliferation of tofu. It benefits vegetarians as well as vegans (a larger percentage of Yale than 1.3%). Definitely where I get most of my protein.

  • PC ’10

    I’m gonna take the unpopular view and support the University’s decision to continue to serve vegan entrees at every meal.

    @#3 Try going vegan for a week and see if it is not “some sacrifice or effort of your own”. Omnivores get to choose between six or seven entrees. Vegans get one. Not terribly unreasonable.

    If you really can’t find anything good to eat in those six or seven entrees every night, maybe the real problem is that ALL the food could be better. If you can’t find something you want in those six or seven entrees, chances are an additional non-vegan entree would be just as gross. It is funny that the comparison entrees brought up are General Tso’s Chicken (one of the best meat-based entrees) and General Tso’s Tofu (one of the worst vegan entrees). I would certainly prefer to have GT Chicken over GT Tofu any day, but there are plenty of meat-based entrees I think are disgusting and vegetarian/vegan fare that I love. There is nothing about meat or dairy that necessarily makes an entree tasty. Yale just needs to step it up and start making some delicious vegan entrees that even the meat-lovers will enjoy.

  • TofuDoesSuck

    This article by Drew is misleading. If tofu were a food only consumed by vegans, this dish would not be on the menu of every Chinese, Japanese, Vietnames restaurant in the U.S., U.K., Canada and much of the world. It would also not be sold at every supermarket in the world, including those in the Midwest and South where vegans are less common than people with three nipples.

    Asians, vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians, foodies (whatever that means), etc. eat tofu at least occassionally. I know many american born Asians at Yale view tofu on the same level as dog food, but this is only because they shun their own culture in order to assimilate into the apple pie/baseball culture of the U.S.

    If Drew did his homework, he would have seen surveys that show as much as 50% of college students want healthy food and as much as 25% want vegan food. The previous poster is correct that vegan food is basically the same as vegetarian food. Sadly, even Ivy League educated brainiacs are ignorant as to what vegan food actually is.

    Drew’s article should have dissected the inability of the dining hall to produce palatable vegetarian food that appeals to everyone, or at least anyone that may experiment with the food. Tofu’s texture to many people is unappealing. Textured soy protein (i.e. Gardein or Morningstar Farms or Boca Burger) is far more palatable to both vegans and omnivores. Seitan, a wheat meat substitute, if cooked properly (i.e. battered and deep fried) is almost indistinguisable from chicken or meat.

    So while I agree that tofu sucks, the general message of this article is misleading.

  • @#9

    I don’t eat thoughts, I eat meat!

  • VegHead

    Billions of dollars worth of vegan food is consumed by meat eaters every year without viewing it as vegan or vegetarian. Examples include peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, falafel and hummus sandwiches/dips, gaucomole and corn chips, pasta and marinara sauce, vegetarian baked beans, lentil soup, split pea soup, and dozens of other examples. Heinz vegetarian baked beans sells around 150 million cans a year in England alone.

    Not to mention the billions of dollars of junk food that also just happens to be vegan including OREOS (annual sales of 300 million per annum), hundreds of other cookies, soft and hard pretzels, chips, granola bars, nut mixes, nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, etc.

    The author of this article should have written about the ineptitude of Yale Dining rather than lobby for the removal of healthy, environmentally friendly food. Yale Dining needs to develop recipes that taste good, are healthy, and happen to be vegan. While tofu is popular in Asian and vegetarian cultures, it is a food that increases the number of neophobes by simply mentioning the word.

  • veggie

    there may not be a lot of vegans but there are a lot of vegetarians and veggie food here i s often upsetting. please, cook food that is not boiled or sauteed — there are other ways to cook vegetables! and when i walk into commons and see “shrimp fried rice” but no “veggie fried rice” it’s devastating. conclusion: make samples of both types of food that are vegetarian and meat. general tso’s chicken, and paneer tikka masala.

  • StopComplaining

    It’s shocking to me that while people are eating mud cakes in Haiti, starving in Ghana, eating insects in India, etc., Yale yuppies are complaining about their choice of having 8 different quality meals served daily.

    Is this real? This is what we have come to? Rather than write about the fact that the janitors at Yale don’t earn a living wage while the professors complain about 145,000 per year, we have articles documenting students complaining about not having enough CHOICE when in reality, the buffet style of eating ensures numerous choices every day.

    For the most of you at Yale, you have it better than 99.9% of people on this planet. 880 million individuals will go hungry tonight. That number should be zero. Yet its almost one billion. About a billion do not have regular access to clean water.

    So tonight when you enter the dining hall, try to be grateful for everything, including the water. Take a deep breath in silence, look at the beauty of your water, and as you sip it, thank the universe that you grew up with an abundance of clean water.

    While I’m not vegan, I respect their choice to live that lifestyle. They worked hard to get the options in the dining hall, now it seems a few spoiled individuals want to take those options away. It’s illogical.

  • Are you serious?

    Almost always the vegan option is meant to cover all of the following:
    students who are vegan,
    students who are vegetarian,
    students who for religious reasons can’t eat that night’s meat (pork, anyone?),
    students who are dieting,
    students who are sustainability conscious,
    students who have allergies (lactose intolerance affects a HUGE percentage of Yale students).

    Please do not be so unenlightened as to think that the only people who eat the dishes marked “vegan” are vegan.

  • Joe

    Commenter #6 makes a crucial point. The population of vegetarians in the united states vastly outnumbers the population of “strict-vegetarians” or vegans, and this is likely paralleled in Yale’s numbers. By moving between two extremes of “the vegan 1.3%” and people who want to eat meat in every meal, the argument is ignoring the entire population in-between (who I would like to think are the majority: vegetarians, and health-, animal-, and earth-conscious folks who appreciate a little less meat in line).

    As a vegan, I’ve had years of experience which prove good vegan food is not merely a game of substitution. It is likely that few of the dining hall chefs have had any experience cooking with meat-substitutes such as tofu or seitan previously, and this seems to me the issue at hand. Though we all appreciate their hard work, a better-informed and better-equipped dining service could very well provide delicious vegan meals which all could enjoy, and indeed enhance Yale’s reputation in the process.

  • y11

    As a pescetarian, I often end up eating the vegan option (the fish is pretty suspicious most of the time). I admit the quality could be improved but I think the 1.3% is misused. If you spend any time in a dinning hall, you see that more than 1.3% of people are eating those dishes. Some meat eaters use them as sides, some people with religious restrictions use them, and vegetarians and other people who are trying to eat healthy by cutting down on meat all benefit from having a vegan option.

    In my opinion, everyone wins if the quality of the food improves. I think that the Yale dinning hall staff is just poor at preparing some of the common vegan dishes.

  • y09

    The problem isn’t that vegan food is served at all, it’s that the vegan food they serve is for the most part terrible. Nobody complains about the Chana Masala, because it’s good. Everyone complains about the General Tso’s Tofu, because it’s terrible. This is not complicated.

  • saybrook997

    PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals. Only 1.3% vegans, that’s amazing. How many are males? We (males) don’t even know the difference between vegan and vegetarian. But I know guys who have become vegetarians because a girlfriend is and wants that. So much for the patriarchy–when did that exist? Sounds nice.

  • @23

    @#23 StopComplaining. It’s shocking to me that while people are eating mud cakes in Haiti, starving in Ghana, eating insects in India, etc., asinine non-Yale trolls who for some reason voyeuristically stalk the YDN are wasting their time ranting against Yalies. Don’t you have anything better to do? Rather than write about the fact that Yalies are entitled yuppies and complain about people you don’t even know, why don’t you try to be grateful for everything, including your (unfortunate) ability to have access to internet and a computer to voice your hypocritic, holier-than-thou, similarly entitled thoughts. And I for one actually like eating insects — why are you insulting Indian cultures that might actually enjoy bugs as a delicacy?

  • LimpCarrot


    Ironically, individuals who ascribe feelings of strength or being macho (typically male meatheads) are those same individuals who are prescribe lipitor (cholesterol-lowering) and/or Cialis/Viagra/Levitra when they are 45 to 55. Yes, meat eating, specifically elevated saturated fat consumption, does cause impotence.

    You may think 45 or 55 years of age is a long ways away but the foods you consume now play a role in your disease incidence in 20 years from now.

  • Tanner

    Another small minority runs amock. Did the dinning dept come up with the menu or was the Law School involved?
    Here’s a question Do you eat vegtables as a main course? Vegtables are rather bland I like dishes that cover the veggies in some kind of sauce.

  • Veghead

    “Tofu ravioli”

    An example of how idiotic Yale Dining can be. It’s almost as if they are attempting to make fun of individuals who eat this way.

    If you want to make a healthy, eco-friendly entree appealing to the mainstream audience (which they claim they do), why on earth would you call it tofu ravioli?!?!??!?!

    One of schools I attended, had a vegan/gluten free option that was called, “tofu carrot cake.” By including the word tofu, it basically ensures no one will eat that dessert.

    If Yale dining is reading this, simple call it ravioli and then put either the words: non-dairy or V or Vegan.

  • Y1212

    Food for thought (I know none of these ideas adequately address all the issues at hand and there are arguments to be had against each of them, but just something to think about):

    While there are some vegetarians who may not be able to eat meat for religious reasons, many vegetarians and vegans I know fall into these categories by choice. They each choose to be vegan (or vegetarian) for different reasons — the environment, animal rights, health, etc. For them, these principles outweigh the potential upsides of eating meat and thus they have CHOSEN this lifestyle. But what about the rest of the student population who feel that the delights of eating meat outweigh these other concerns? They have CHOSEN also to be meat eaters. None of these groups, besides the religiously inclined, have been forced to either eat meat or not eat meat. How are we discriminating against vegans by not giving them a vegan option at every single meal? They could just as easily choose to eat meat again if it’s really that difficult for them to deal with, or they could deal with the consequences of the inconveniences of being vegan by eating something from the salad or deli bars. They merely prefer but don’t “need” to eat vegan options, and neither do meat eaters need to eat meat – but since there are so many more meat eaters, maybe it’s good to have a far more proportional arrangement of entrees with more meat and less vegan options, since both are choosing to eat a certain kind of food. Why do we need to cater to a minority’s choice? It’s like saying, since 5% of the student body prefers sweet and spicy food, at least one dish at each meal needs to be sweet and spicy. However, of course, this whole entire equation changes when we think of those who truly “need” to be able to have access to vegetarian options.

    I agree that vegan options are a good choice for those who may be lactose intolerant that they may not otherwise have.

    I don’t understand how the idea of choosing only 2 dining halls to serve vegan options at each meal and rotating these “marginalizes” any group on campus. Um, if your friends like you enough, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind going to JE instead of Branford for vegan dinner, or Trumbull instead of Saybrook. As for preserving the family college experience at Yale, what about those who live in Swing each year and don’t even have a dining hall? They’ve learned to deal with not having a dining hall in their college living space, and it’s really not that bad.

  • @ #23

    BRAVO for your comment! Thanks!

  • Bri

    Law of numbers – 0% of vegans can eat a non-vegan meal. 100% of non-vegans can eat a vegan meal.

    Quit complaining about it. All of the “tasty” things people claim to like about a meal are always their vegan components. Ever eat plain, unsalted, unseasoned boiled chicken?

  • Vegetarian

    It is impotant to note that Yale’s vegetarians, who make up a sginificant portion of the student body, also benefit from the the vegan dishes.

  • not a vegan

    I like how an option for taking care of “too many vegan” entries is to only make them available at a few dining halls. Isn’t that a form of discrimination? Vegans aren’t a different class of people, they don’t pay any less for their meal plan and so they have the right to the same amount of accessibility as anyone else who pays for a meal plan. Not all vegans are people who have made the choice, some of them are required by their religion, like Jains. And many of you complain that they get one dish out of eight dishes. That’s ONE dish. What if they’re allergic to something else in that dish, for example nuts. They have no other main entree options, while you have the choice to pick from seven. And even if they serve less vegan options, it doesn’t mean that the quality of the food is going to suddenly improve.

    Also, people complaining about how tofu sucks, no one’s asking you to eat it, just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not allowed in the dining halls. For a school that’s supposed to have so many smart people, the whining about this issue, really makes it sound like a kindergarten class.

  • Seriousl Seriously, ‘Are you serious?’

    Let consider reality in regards to the vegan option. You assert it is intended to cover a multitude of other dietary concerns, which I think is overstating the reach a bit. Let’s analyze this on a case-by-case basis:

    “students who are vegan” – no disagreement, obviously
    “students who are vegetarian” – fair enough
    “students who for religious reasons can’t eat that night’s meat (pork, anyone?)” – Right, as if that specific meat comprises or is contained in all of the regular entrees. Those opposed to certain meats have a bevy of option that do not include poorly made and wholly unattractive vegan meals.
    “students who are dieting” – Are you implying ‘dieting’ is constrained to consuming vegan food? It surely doesn’t constitute limiting overall consumption or focusing on specific “regular” food groups, does it?
    “students who are sustainability conscious” – How big is the overlap between vegan students and those that are sustainability conscious in regards to feeding themselves? To be honest, the responses above indicate this is quite strong. I’ve never seen anyone I eat with (no vegans) complaining or mentioning their desire to ensure they eat sustainable food.

    “students who have allergies (lactose intolerance affects a HUGE percentage of Yale students). – Are you honestly saying that the vegan option is the only one devoid of milk or dairy products? A quick perusal of the menu indicates that really is not the truth.

    We love to be enlightened, and we would prefer if the arguments you present us has some basis in something other than the fanciful creations of your mind.

  • non-vegan

    Vegan food is great. Vegan and vegetarian versions of non-vegan food are universally abysmal. Why would the chefs think that General Tso’s sauce matches tofu? Maybe because Yale chefs are not really chefs?

    There are excellent ways to cook and eat tofu, and none of them, as far as I know, pretends that it’s meat.

  • @28 (SM ’12)

    I’m shocked by the hostility in these posts towards people who are either trying to reduce cruelty, help the environment, or live healthier lives.

    And @28, golly, thanks for propagating the worst stereotypes about men. Not only do you think we all eat meat, you apparently think we’re all meat-heads as well. I know plenty of other male vegans/vegetarians. I hope none of my classmates actually hold similar views.

    I hope you’re not too terribly upset that there are vegan beverage options too…

  • saybrook997


    Thanks for the advice. I’m just playing with you. I eat less red meat and more fish and veggies, oh, and more butterscotch pudding, but not because I’m a vegetarian. My HDL is 70 out of 142 total cholesterol. Got my free physical. I bet I beat you on vegetables by a lot–you know how competitive males are. Let us play.


  • huh?

    i don’t understand what the impetus for this article is. henderson cites ONE FRESHMAN who thinks there’s too much vegan food, and everyone else he talks to pretty much thinks the amount of vegan food is just fine. the ydn can be such a glutton for punishment sometimes.

  • happy omnivore

    I wish the dining halls would just stop stop deep-frying tofu. Ick. I agree that this article speaks less to a genuine problem with too many vegan-friendly foods (Chana Masala and Butternut Squash Soup, anyone?) than one particular, not-so-delicious fried tofu dish. Ick – and this from someone who generally loves tofu.

  • tofu eating asian

    But #43, deep fried tofu is delicious! I wish the Yale chefs would learn how to cook it properly instead of pretending that it’s meat. Their versions of Chinese food are abysmal caricatures at best. Putting tofu into General Tso chicken sauce is not just stupid on a cultural level, it’s stupid on a gastronomic level, too.

  • ’12

    Everyone should stop whining. You have food. You are not going hungry. If you don’t like something don’t eat it. If you don’t like the meal plan don’t get it. You are not “entitled” despite what you’ve been told all your lives.

  • Wow

    I never thought Yalies were so ignorant, entitled, and downright selfish before I read this article and the subsequent comments.

  • LimpCarrot


    I’m impressed you know your HDL and total cholesterol as most physicians and medical students into their 20s and early 30s have never had their cholesterol checked. I’m assuming you are alum rather than a current student. I’m also impressed you admit you eat more fish than red meat.
    As for competing in vegetable consumption…well, during spring, summer, and early fall, I juice 100 ounces of fresh organic juice daily for weeks on end (at least 16 weeks.) This entails 50 lb bag of carrots, one case of apples (100 apples), four bags of spinach (4 lbs. each), and 1 lb. of ginger…per week. Yes, per week. During winter, I use a Vita-Mix for green energy soup – cooked and blended zucchini, spinach, arugula, green peas, broccoli, onions, garlic and olive oil. When I get bored of that, I purchase a case of sweet potatoes (40 lbs) and cook and puree this and mix it with peanut butter, tomato puree, onion, garlic (West African peanut stew.)

    For the last 14 years, my HDL has consistently been higher than my LDL. I attend the American Heart Association conference almost every year (last 6 years) and have interacted with dozens of cardiologists or thoracic surgeons who state they have never even heard of anyone with an HDL higher than LDL.

    No, I am not 100% pure. I drink every weekend and am out till 4 am. I deep-fry foods and love it.
    I’ll make a challenge to you. Try getting your HDL higher than your LDL. Trick is eat almost vegan (greek yogurt and occassional fish is ok) and eat lots of good fats (olive oil, seeds, nuts, avocado.) Also, second part of the challenge is to try a fresh juice diet for 7 to 14 days. You drink 100 ounces per day – with one small meal at night – beans or brown rice or fish.

    P.S. I make butterscotch pudding from the brand, Dr. Oetker. Instead of mixing with with cow milk, I use almond milk.

  • tofupup

    I don’t know why the vegan option isn’t generally seen as a welcome educational push as well; at least meat-eaters have the option of trying it out and widening their world and finding out that sustainable food exists.

    It might also be a good idea to poll the self-identified “meat-eaters” who have said that vegetarian food isn’t as “tasty” as meat, and see whether they’ve actually ever tried any.

    I don’t see chickpea masala as anything but a hearty, spicy, wonderful meal option that everyone should have a chance to check out. (Oh, yeah: I forgot–it’s vegan, so it must taste awful.)

  • Chicken

    The General Tso’s Chicken used to be good. But I think Yale cut corners some time two years ago and ordered a different brand of breaded, friable chicken. The end result: HORRIBLE.

  • conservative redneck


  • Huh? @ Huh?

    What article did you read? I’m fairly sure (i.e. certain) there were at least three freshman (all from the same college) who voiced their displeasure with the prevalence of vegan offerings.

  • Yale 2003

    – Jews who keep Kosher at Yale must go to their own separate dining hall.
    – Jews who keep Kosher probably make up a similar percentage to the 1.7% of vegans
    – Vegans get their own option at every single dining hall at every single meal while kosher Jews must congregate at a separate dining hall

    I am not arguing that there should be a kosher option at every meal. Rather, fringe elements of eating (those under 5%) should expect a limited number of options in a limited number of places. The fact that such a disproportionate amount of dining hall funding goes to vegans is criminal. This is something that should not be tolerated. Do what is right Yale. Send vegans to their own dining hall.

  • MC 12

    I hate the vegan offerings too. Please never, ever, put tofu in curry. South Asians DO NOT eat tofu.

  • Meathead

    LimpCarrot. You are delightfully impressive.

  • Yale ’08

    I’m in love with LImpCarrot and his/her recipes. Not a vegan and rarely veggie, but sounds really good.

  • Jill

    Just made General Tsao’s Tofu (from last night. It was so awesome; don’t try to convince me it’s not just as good as it is with the chicken. Some people just need to insist on making an issue out of nothing.

  • JC

    Check out this informative and inspiring video on why people choose vegan:

    Also see Gary Yourofsky:

  • KosherUnite

    To Yale 2003,

    I guess you did not read the comments to enlighten yourself. Go back and read the comments before you make another comment. Otherwise, you look ignorant.

    A meatless entree (translates to healthier entree) is not just for vegans. It is for anyone who chooses to eat meatless, even occasionally. People do this for health, the environment or to be quasi-vegetarian. Include vegetarians and vegans into that mix, you have wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy more than 1.3%. (Surveys show this may be as high as 50%)

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Kosher require that foods be seperated when prepared? It seems as if this requires a seperate dining hall. If it does not, I support having Kosher meals at each dining hall. Unlike you, I don’t get jealous and insecure. I keep an open mind.

  • an omnivore

    please don’t take the vegan food away! it is frequently tasty and healthy! these are things i like even though i also enjoy the occasional grass fed burger!

  • alumnus

    Yale College dining halls used to have about four different menus, split between the colleges. Why can’t that be the case still now? Even with bulk food purchasing, a version of this could use different preparations with the same ingredients. Isn’t that kind of expertise why Yale hires chefs?

    On the other hand, the comments about treating tofu as a substitute for meat are spot on. It is an ingredient in its own right, and I can’t imagine that any chef worth his puffy hat and striped pants who would think that it can be cooked like meat.
    It sounds like the chefs running the menu are chefs in name alone, not skill and education.

  • Gerardo Tristan

    As a non privileged person of color all I can say about this ridiculus article and discussion is : PATHETIC! When selfish and privileged white people (especially white males) don’t have things to conplain about, they sure find something very quickly. And Yale students are going to be the next geration who rules this country? No wander this world and this country is in such a bad state!

  • Yale Friend

    Yale should look into serving MATCH Meats in the dining halls; they’re vegan (soy and wheat) meat that cook and taste like animal meat (so much so that when I’ve cooked it for friends, they never knew they were eating a non-meat meat until I told them at the end of the meal). Just one suggestion for how Yale’s vegan options can have wider appeal.

  • Non-Vegan, Non-Vegetarian

    Wow, really? I think it’s a bit ridiculous how up in arms people have gotten over this issue. I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian, but I’ll often choose the vegan option simply because it appeals to me, having it there isn’t taking away an option, its providing another. And I really can’t believe people would be so selfish as to try to take away the one entree option vegans have, just because they don’t like it.
    I’m also really tired of people lashing out so strongly against tofu and vegan options, I personally, prefer it to meat very often and I know a lot of people who do too- I also know many people who reject tofu and alternative protein options despite never having really given them a chance.

  • male

    There’s some weird conflation between meat eating and masculinity that’s very common. I think that’s why a lot of men bash vegetarianism/tofu for no apparent reason. It’s so silly.

  • Matt

    None of this would be a problem if the dining halls served better food. At the rates they charge, nobody ought to be complaining.

  • Cody

    Why on earth would anyone who can eat everything on the menu complain about a few things on the menu that represent the only choices for some people?

  • another non-vegetarian

    I like meat. I like tofu. But I like them both to be cooked with respect for what they are. Conflating them with each other because they’re “protein” is as dumb as conflating beer with wine because they’re “alcohol”. If the only aspect people care about is nutrition, they’re operating on a lower level of civilization than apes. Even apes care about enjoying their food.

  • Abhinav Nayar

    I’m not sure whether someone’s already suggested this, but wouldn’t it make sense to just put all the 1.3% vegan students (right when they’re freshmen) into one residential college and have everybody get some vegan food while the vegan college gets a little more. Perhaps there could be something similar for the Kosher Jews and other groups. Since they’re small minorities, it won’t even feel like segregation/discrimination and sounds practical. Yale Student Council are you listening?

  • wow

    Wow, I am amazed and appalled at most of the responses here. I am very much an enthusiastic meat eater (I have meat at nearly every meal), but i also LOVE general tso’s tofu. Just because you eat meat and animal products doesn’t mean you have to in every dish of every meal. Vegan food can be really, really tasty. I’m not sure if my fellow meat-eating Yalies need to open up their closed minds, or if the dining halls need to get better at making the vegan food tasty enough for everyone to enjoy.

  • MAtt

    Good point – 1.3% of the population is vegan therefore 1.3% of the entrees should be vegan. Stunning logic.

    And I love the comment about “inequality” which may be suffered due to varying menus across colleges. Is that what “inequality” means these days? Maybe we should reserve that word for “white only bathrooms” and women not being allowed to own land. In the case of the menus, its called “choice.” Idiots.

  • Jeff

    Maybe a more appropriate title of the article would be “Spoiled brats whine that college meal plans are not built entirely around them.” Really, there are five different non-vegan entrees and some people are dissatisfied with the fact that all six of them aren’t? It would be nice if at a school populated by supposedly bright people there could be an intelligent conversation about our society’s treatment of animals, but a prerequisite for that would be people caring about someone besides themselves to begin with.

  • I demand that

    They offer meat based vegetables if they offer vegetable based meat. I want non vegan options for all the lettuce and the squash, etc. Until that day comes, I the dining hall will never meat my expectations . The vegan dishes would render the great red one green, the multitudinous seas blue! Out damned tofu, out!

  • Alessandro Machi

    I can’t believe how spoiled you idiots are. Go kill the animal yourself. I will make it a point to NOT associate with anybody from Yale and I will make it point to get in the face anyone who ever brags they are from yale, yes, its on.


    Higher education producing spoiled morons like you so you can get a high paying job selling off main street to the highest bidding company across seas, and you whine about vegan food???

    This article has to be a joke, no?

  • Alessandro Machi

    response to #68 By Abhinav Nayar

    No, it doesn’t make sense that 98.6% of the population desires to inhale meat at every meal. sheesh.

  • marcz

    Look at the Obama alter in the background. Yale is so PC it’s a caricature of itself. Look at me I’m so cool and PC I even eat bland tofu at the Obama shrine. I open my windows on the coldest days to cool my room down, I never turn off my lights or my computer, and I walk around all winter long in a T-shirt and flip-flops. I really enjoy watching you watching me eat PC food.

  • @68

    That’s not a very good idea. A central idea of the college system is that they’re not ghettoized factions of students but rather a random sampling of the yale community. Also, if you decided to start a vegetarian or vegan diet (or developed a health problem that required changing your diet), would you have to transfer colleges?

    Bad idea.

    This whole conversation is idiotic. The vegan options should be better, but only idiots would oppose having one vegan entree (THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO EAT IF YOU DON’T WANT TO) in the dining halls. It’s depressing how many stupid people there are at Yale.

  • @ MC12

    I’m South Asian and vegetarian. My father is Tamil and cooks with Tofu all of the time. So please think before saying that South Asians do not eat tofu.

  • Noah

    Earth to North American meat-eaters: You can a) afford food and b) go to a dining hall with 6 or 7 options every night. What the heck are you complaining about?

    PS You can eat ALL of the options whereas those who put a lot of thought into what they eat only get one choice.

  • alum

    When I was at Yale, I was very impressed with the vegan options at the dining hall, and ate them pretty often, even though I was not a vegan or a vegetarian myself. In my view, these options often tasted a lot better than dining hall meat.

    Anyway, I can’t believe meat-eaters are seriously complaining that ONE entree in a dining hall might be available to vegetarians, vegans, and anybody who likes that kind of food. How entitled and self-centered can you be?

  • Vegetarian

    Seriously, I find it unbelievable that so many of you are so egocentric, and, quite honestly, greedy.

    There is ONE vegan option. Get over it, people. There are MANY options with meat. If you are unsatisfied with the 6-7 entrees that are not vegan, then you are overly self-entitled, utterly self-centered, and simply spoiled.

  • Seriously?

    Seriously, I find it unbelievable that so many of you are so egocentric, and, quite honestly, greedy.

    There is ONE vegan option. Get over it, people. There are MANY options with meat. If you are unsatisfied with the 6-7 entrees that are not vegan, then you are overly self-entitled, utterly self-centered, and simply spoiled.