This academic year, students will get a little taste of Australia in their dining hall meat.
Yale Dining has transitioned to using Australian beef and lamb because animals there are treated more humanely. Silliman Chef Stu Comen said the transition will bring positive change to the Yale dining experience, and students interviewed expressed similarly positive sentiments. Casey Lincoln ’16 said she is more excited to eat beef and lamb this year because of their more sustainable source and improved taste.
“The steak has been good in the past, but I think it tastes a lot better this year,” she said. “And it’s important that the cows are treated better. I would eat red meat regardless, but having that knowledge makes me feel even more comfortable about doing so.”
Director of Residential Dining Cathy Van Dyke SOM ’86 said Yale Dining is opting to use Australian beef and lamb because it is sustainably raised — grass-fed and grass-finished, meaning that the animals remain on pastures throughout their lives.
Comen said that because Australian products are grass-fed and treated humanely, items served by Yale Dining this year, namely the burgers, taste “cleaner.” Even with the great distance between Australia and Yale, he said, the change is worthwhile.
“Yes it’s coming from a long ways away, but the animal is treated better and in a more sustainable way,” he said.
Xavier Westergaard ’19 said he too supports the transition to Australian beef and lamb, but he added that Yale Dining likely had ulterior motives in making the change.
“I think that if it’s healthier for the students and if the cows are grass fed, it’s better for both sides — so I’m glad Yale Dining is willing to make the change,” he said. “But I’m not going to pretend like it’s 100 percent selfless. It’s a good plug to say we’re being healthier, so it’s good for us and a strategic move on behalf of Yale Dining.”
All eight students interviewed said they supported using more healthy beef and lamb, but only four of those interviewed noticed a change in the quality of the products.
Patrick Reed ’18 said Yale Dining’s lamb and steak have noticeably improved, adding that they were part of some of the best meals he has had at Yale.
“The lamb was probably one of the top three lambs I’ve ever had, and it brought a nice change of pace — absolutely delicious,” he said. “On steak night, I thought the preparation could have been a bit stronger, but the quality of the meat was markedly better than last year.”
Paulina Kaminski ’18 said she too has found the steak to be improved, calling it “100 percent” better and commending its strong seasoning.
Shireen Roy ’19 said the shift to Australian beef and lamb benefits Yale students as well as the environment, and Kyle Deakins ’18 said there is no situation in which using more healthy meat products is a bad idea. He added that he did not notice a difference in the taste of the products while eating them, but in hindsight he found the burgers to be more appealing than usual.
Though Isabel Mendia ’18 said she was not informed about the shift to Australian products, she added that she is excited about the change and would expect others to feel the same way.
“I haven’t noticed a difference in the quality of the beef, but more healthy beef is always better,” she said. “I don’t know of anyone who would say otherwise.”