This semester, Yale Dining will offer new dessert options for vegan students.
Bakers in Yale Dining recently developed new vegan desserts in response to student interest, said Director of Residential Dining Cathy Van Dyke SOM ’86. Director of Culinary Excellence Ron DeSantis said offerings would now include vegan cupcakes, cookies and tarts, adding that Yale Dining began to explore vegan desserts in 2013 when an expert in vegan cuisine visited Yale. Catherine Henry ’17, a vegan who moved off-campus because of a lack of edible options, noted that while these treats represent a step in the right direction, they fail to address the major challenge she faced: putting together nutritional meals.
“I think it’s great that they’re expanding vegan desserts, but it’s only a start. The reason I moved off campus wasn’t because of the desserts — it was the main meals,” she said. “If you live on campus, you have to be on the meal plan. They always provided me with something to eat, but it was too expensive considering I ate green beans for dinner every night.”
Henry said she would have “loved to stay on campus,” adding that she does not fault Yale for making residential students purchase meal plans. Given that dorms do not have kitchens, she said, instituting such a requirement ensures that students will be fed.
DeSantis said Yale Dining has been interested in expanding its vegan offerings since Chef Tal Ronnen — an expert in vegan cuisine — visited Yale in 2013. The goal in the development of these dishes is to create recipes that are both delicious and vegan, he said.
“Chef Tal Ronnen was a guest chef for Yale Dining and introduced us to delicious vegan foods. During his visit in November 2013 we began exploring vegan desserts, testing them and refining them to become part of our daily offerings,” DeSantis said. “We like to think of them as delicious desserts that happen to be vegan. Our offerings this year will consist of cupcakes, cookies and delicious tarts.”
Berkeley Cook’s Helper Audrey Martineau said there is no downside to adding new desserts — the more options the better. She added that vegans are especially limited, so she understands why Yale Dining is focusing on improving their culinary experiences.
General Services Associate Harold Turnage said he also is excited about the new desserts, because they likely will increase satisfaction and enjoyment amongst vegan students.
“I think adding vegan desserts is important, so everyone can experience their comfort foods,” he said. “If you’re a vegan, we sometimes didn’t have anything — now they’ll have a choice.”
Lynn Han ’19 said she thinks developing these dishes was a smart idea, adding that it would be even better if they were healthy as well. Monica McDonough ’19 said she also approves of the offerings, because they are modern and beneficial to vegan students.
“I’m happy for my vegan friends, because now they can have dessert,” she said. “I think it is very smart to give vegans new options — and vegan desserts also sound trendy.”
But Haley Mitchell-Adams ’18 said that providing new vegan desserts would prove to be detrimental to students, and Yale Dining should instead be focusing on major dinner items.
“I think vegan desserts aren’t helping anyone. Vegans need actual vegan food — not desserts,” she said. “A vegan diet is healthy, but vegan alternatives to already unhealthy food are not.’
Other desserts offered by Yale Dining include assorted fruit, Jell-O, pudding and yogurt.