[See if going vegan is the best diet for you.]
The class has been wildly popular, requiring a second section and a wait list each year. It's been influential, too: Vought says many students have altered their eating habits after experiencing new foods and learning about environmental concerns.
Vought says she's even been approached by the University of Utah to replicate the course, and is considering writing a book on her tips for teaching it. Elsewhere, philosophy courses—such as Andy Egan's 4-credit Eating Right: The Ethics of Food Choices and Food Policy at Rutgers University, and Good Food, a course twice offered at Franklin and Marshall College—are often other educational avenues for students interested in delving into the ethical and environmental implications of consuming animal meat.
Meatless Mondays, a nationwide campaign to encourage mindful eating, isn't exactly as it sounds: Animal proteins aren't necessarily prohibited in the dining halls, restaurants, and hospitals involved in the effort. But for one day a week, the dining services involved offer additional vegetarian and vegan options to consumers, in hopes that the promotion encourages them to be more aware of their food choices. Already a staple at about 50 colleges, including the University of Virginia, Syracuse University, and Colby College, the program could see more than a tenfold increase at college campuses this fall. Sodexo, the food provider to about 650 colleges, will offer the program to its institutional clients starting next semester.
"We don't—in any way—want to encourage taking meat off the campus, but it encourages students and professors to think more about what [food] the school provides," says Meatless Monday Program Director Chris Elam. "That encourages a great deal of dialogue, and there's a greater chance for meatless options to pop up on other days of the week."
[Consult the U.S. News Best Diets rankings to find the right meal plan for you.]
Some colleges offer students a way to get directly involved in producing the veggies they may later consume. Schools including Warren Wilson College, St. Mary's College of Maryland, and the University of California—Davis run campus farms, where produce grown is often later sold to the dining halls. At St. Mary's, the farm also doubles as a classroom for courses such as Books that Cook, as professors tie gardening experiences into lessons about environmentalism and sustainability.
[See photos of campus farms, vegetarian food choices, and other initiatives.]
Of course, schools don't need to supply their own organic produce to give students a chance to sample local flavor. After Bates College received an anonymous $2.5 million donation several years ago, Director of Dining Services Christine Schwartz pledged to use the money for the benefit of both students and local food producers. With the funds, she buys organic produce from 32 farmers throughout Maine and uses the food in the school's dining area, which includes a new vegan platform for students. Elsewhere in the Northeast, the University of Connecticut's Local Routes program is committed to offering local fruits and vegetables, coffees, teas, and milk.