In April 2016, cookbook author, health researcher, and educator Jane Esselstyn worked with Dartmouth Dining Services to create a “Greens Week” menu promoting a plant-based diet. Transitioning to a plant-based diet has been shown to have many health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. In addition, consuming a vegetable-rich diet has been associated with healthy weight control.
While many people are aware of the importance of eating vegetables for vitamins and other health benefits, Esselstyn’s approach to food is unique. Instead of a typical vegan diet, she emphasizes plant-based whole foods, simply prepared without added oil or sugars. Her recipes prove that a plant-based diet doesn’t have to be dull. With the right ingredients on hand, it’s easy to prepare healthier, more satisfying meals without compromising on taste.
Esselstyn brought her expertise and perspective to the Dartmouth community through a partnership with Dining Services. Together, they selected a wide range of recipes from her cookbooks and prepared them for students to enjoy. All of the recipes were featured in ‘53 Commons, Dartmouth’s “All You Care to Eat” dining hall on campus.
The week kicked off on Monday morning, when students got to try “Super Cereal” at breakfast. Inspired by Esselstyn’s brother Rip, the cereal boasted a hearty serving of whole grains, including shredded wheat and whole oats. Along with fresh fruit and nut toppings, the cereal was available for the rest of the week at breakfast. Students passing through ‘53 Commons for lunch and dinner were also treated to a variety of whole food dishes. On Wednesday at lunch, they helped themselves to “Middle Eastern Chickpea Stew,” “Dr. Seuss Stacked Polenta,” and a “Lime Mango Bean Salad” featured at the salad station. Plant-based options were even made available at the bakery, with Dining Services whipping up an assortment of “Jalapeno and Corn Salsa Muffins,” “Oatmeal Banana Peanut Butter Cookies,” and “Kale Cake.” Wrapping up Greens Week was Friday night’s dinner, featuring whole wheat pasta with “Kale Pesto” and a “Brown Rice Mango Salad.”
"I was overall very impressed with the variety and creativity of the featured Greens Week options,” said Kate Salamido ’19. “Featuring more plant-based options at DDS would help improve sustainability and health on campus, and DDS (and Don Reed in particular) have been excited about this change and very receptive to student feedback."
In addition to getting a taste of plant-based eating, students also had many opportunities to interact with Esselstyn and ask questions. On Wednesday, she spoke to students in Silsby Hall about the benefits of a plant-based diet. Throughout the course of the discussion, Esselstyn dispelled many misconceptions surrounding her approach. Following the presentation, students mingled while enjoying snacks prepared by Collis Cafe.
While college students often have a reputation for eating whatever is the most widely and quickly available, Greens Week enabled them to try a wider variety of foods while also learning about benefits that they might not even know could come from eating vegetables.
The Sierra Club ranked the food options at Dartmouth College as the best in the country for sustainable practices. The criteria included sustainable and local purchasing, plant-based options and composting, all of which are areas in which DDS excels. Find out more about the food ranking or see the entire college and university rankings.
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Last Updated: 5/2/16