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De Neve to introduce flexitarian bar, offer plant-based protein options

De Neve dining hall will feature a new flexitarian bar with vegetable-centered food options in January. UCLA Dining Services initiated this move to encourage healthy, sustainable eating. (Miriam Bribiesca/Photo editor)

By Megan Borella

Oct. 31, 2016 12:12 a.m.

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Students will soon have more plant-based food options at a new bar in De Neve dining hall.

De Neve dining hall is opening a flexitarian bar in January to encourage healthy, sustainable eating, said UCLA Dining Services officials in a statement. Flexitarianism is a primarily plant-based diet that includes occasional consumption of meat.

The station will include dishes with more vegetables and fiber and less fat than other food stations at De Neve dining hall, said UCLA spokesperson Alison Hewitt in an email statement.

Hot entrees will be vegetarian, or consist of less than a quarter of meat, Hewitt added. For example, meals may include black-eyed pea chile verde with smoked ham or Cajun shrimp and quinoa casserole. Side dishes may include braised or sauteed greens, seasonal roasted vegetables and mac and cheese.

Meat will not be the sole focus of any of the meals served at the bar, she said.

“(Flexitarianism) represents getting what you can out of a practice without being controlled by its limitations,” Hewitt said.

[Related: Flexitarian dietary, food waste panel kicks off HCI’s Food Week]

Overall, UCLA Dining Services aims to substitute meat with proteins that are less harmful to the environment, Hewitt said.

It intends to alter the current salad bar at De Neve to feature a greater variety of plant-based proteins and vegetarian items, along with some meat options. The salad bar will include wilted, lightly seasoned greens, roasted and sauteed vegetables.

Some students said they were excited about the new bar.

Cristina Garcia, a first-year nursing student, said she thinks the bar is a good idea for students who still want to be healthy while consuming meat. She added she thinks flexitarian students want to eat meat from animals that were not treated harshly, so cutting back on meat is a healthy alternative.

“That kind of food could work for me because it could help me in the future with my diet,” she said. “The meals at De Neve are good, but there is more junk food and this can help me have a healthier diet.”

Taylor Coleman, a first-year undeclared student, said she thinks the bar will be more catered to vegetarians. She said she isn’t sure it will have a variety of options for vegan students like herself.

Emily Sardina, a first-year undeclared student, said she appreciates that UCLA dining is trying to make it easy for people to follow their diets.

“It’s an interesting concept and there are health benefits of focusing on eating fruits and veggies and other plant-based proteins rather than meat proteins,” Sardina said.

Dining Services is currently surveying students about their thoughts on the flexitarian station, Hewitt said.

Dining Services will compare the survey results to a preliminary survey they administered in May to determine whether student diners eat more or less meat after introducing the station, Hewitt said.

Early findings showed that students’ preferences for the amount and kind of protein they eat vary greatly, she added.

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Megan Borella
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