Surbhi Bharadwaj

As part of the Sustainable Yale College Buttery Showcase, 11 butteries started serving new plant-based menu items to students last Sunday.

During the event, which was hosted by Yale’s sustainability group Get Responsible for Earth’s Environment Now, or GREEN, the butteries sold vegan chicken nuggets, dairy-free milkshakes and other organic snacks. In addition to selling different foods, participating butteries discounted their prices by 25 cents for customers who brought their own containers. The dishes will remain on the butteries’ menus indefinitely.

Upon purchasing a plant-based food item on Sunday, customers received a raffle ticket with a chance to win a gift card to vegan-friendly New Haven restaurant Claire’s Corner Copia.

According to GREEN co-President Trini Kechkian ’21, adding new dishes to the menus was a culmination of the group’s yearlong effort to incorporate more environmentally friendly ingredients and techniques into butteries across Yale.

“Our goal was to draw attention to plant-based options as being a feasible option to butteries,” she said. “The second [goal] is making the butteries more inclusive. There are a lot of people who aren’t regulars because they don’t have foods that cater to them.”

Butteries used GREEN’s Better Buttery Guide to learn about the new recipes and ecological practices. The guide also included a self-test for staff members to gauge the effectiveness of their sustainability efforts. For example, participating butteries received points for composting, coordinating with Yale Dining for ingredients and only using reusable dishes and utensils.

GREEN co-President Victoria Lim ’21 said that her team created the guide to help butteries transition toward more sustainable practices. In the next edition of the guide, Lim’s team plans to include an expense sheet for butteries to aid in their decision-making.

“We wanted to show them that [the cost of transitioning] isn’t as much of a burden as it may seem when integrating more plant-based options,” she said. “We tried to make sure that the transition is as easy as possible.”

Among the recipes included in the Better Buttery Guide and served at the showcase was the Very Berry Smoothie, which is made from one large ripe frozen banana, one cup of mixed berries, plant-based milk and ice. Another vegan alternative to a buttery staple is the Gardein Crispy Tenders. Instead of chicken, these tenders use soy, wheat and pea protein to simulate meat texture.

Kechkian said that a wider group of people will feel better about choosing sustainable snacks if vegan dishes are included in the butteries’ menu options.

“We wanted to show that plant-based food is good, and doesn’t have to just be fruits and salads, but can also be food that you would want to have at night when you’re working on a paper,” she said.

Despite GREEN’s push for sustainability, three butteries — Davenport, Timothy Dwight and Silliman colleges — did not participate in the event. Kechkian said these butteries needed more time to transition and were not fully ready to launch on Sunday with the other ones.

Still, both Kechkian and Lim agreed that the Sustainable Buttery Showcase was a great opportunity to demonstrate the viability of plant-based buttery options.

“We’ve been working on [this project] for an entire year, and it’s nice to see that what we’re doing has tangible effects on campus,” Lim said.

GREEN was founded last March.

Matt Kristoffersen | 

Clarification, April 16: This article was updated to explain that in the next addition of GREEN’s buttery guide, Lim’s team plans to include an expense sheet to aid in decision-making. It was also updated to clarify that Green has worked on the buttery project for an entire year, not the showcase.