Mean Greens, first all-vegan university cafeteria, celebrates 5th anniversary

UNT's Mean Greens Café, the country’s first all-vegan university dining hall
UNT's Mean Greens Café, the country’s first all-vegan university dining hall, celebrates its 5th anniversary on Oct. 14, 2016.
The veganinis - vegan paninis - have earned praise from customers who eat at UNT
The veganinis - vegan paninis - have earned praise from customers who eat at UNT's Mean Greens vegan dining hall, the first such dining hall in the nation. Mean Greens is celebrating its 5th anniversary on Oct. 14, 2016.
Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 14:22
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DENTON, Texas (UNT) — What began as a way to satisfy the growing demand for more healthful food options at the University of North Texas blossomed into the country’s first all-vegan university dining hall.

And now, Mean Greens Café will celebrate its 5th anniversary on Oct. 14 (Friday) with a vegan feast, complete with live music, entertainment, games and more.

Since it opened, Mean Greens Café has won national recognition for UNT, including an “A” rating from animal advocacy group peta2, which said UNT goes “above and beyond to provide all students with exceptional vegan food.” Peta2 also listed UNT on its Dean’s List for “making exceptional strides in vegan dining on campus.”

But most importantly, it has earned praise from customers who flock to the cafeteria for its diverse menu and well-loved items, such as veganinis (vegan paninis), tofu fingers and seitan pizza.

TAMS student Sarah Ali, who cut animal products from her diet last year for health reasons, said Mean Greens made the transition much easier. She especially loves the made-to-order veganini sandwiches and mashed potatoes.

“The food is wonderful,” she said. “And I felt so much better once I started eating this food.”

Chef Manager Carla Trujillo said the cafeteria wanted to show people that vegan dining is not only for vegans.

“It’s more than just salads and vegetables, and you don’t have to sacrifice taste for nutritious food,” Trujillo said. “We serve distinct menus and dishes that are fresh, flavorful and satisfying.”

Mean Greens features a variety of tasty and nutritious options, such as whole grain pastas, soups and gluten-free breads, as well as popular favorites like tacos, pizza, lasagna and gyro sandwiches. The focus is on delicious, good-for-you food served in a relaxing atmosphere, said Trujillo, and the cafeteria has even become a favorite destination for residents of Denton.

In fact, the majority of patrons are non-vegans or vegetarians who enjoy the cafeteria’s warm ambience, creative dishes and vegan sweets like coconut cake or chocolate chip cookies, she said.

UNT sophomore from Mission, Texas, Michael Ramirez, who is not vegan, said he loves the freshly prepared food and flavorful side dishes, like skewers of asparagus, mushrooms and pineapple. Sine he began eating at the cafeteria last year, he said he is getting many more fruits and vegetables.

This year, Mean Greens plans to expand its menu options and install a Freight Farm, a hydroponic garden built into a specially-designed refurbished freight trailer, behind the cafeteria.

“We have always sourced our ingredients from local vendors, and this is as local as you can get,” Trujillo said. “Now we’ll be able to grow lettuce and other produce right in our own backyard.”

An all-you-care-to-eat meal at Mean Greens cost $7.50, and students, staff and faculty can use their meal plans.

Mean Greens 5th anniversary party will be 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14. Everyone is invited to attend. The cafeteria is behind Maple Hall on the UNT campus in Denton. For more information on Mean Greens Café, go to dining.unt.edu/meangreens.

For more information on Mean Greens or the anniversary party: reach Carla Trujillo, Chef Manager of Mean Greens Café, at 940-565-2038 or Carla.Trujillo@unt.edu or Kevin Hosey, marketing director for UNT Dining Services, at 940-891-6761 or kevin.hosey@unt.edu.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108