Sustainability in Action

Let’s eat our way to a cleaner world

What if Environmental Responsibility married Yumminess? That’s what happened here — and it gave birth to a whole range of tastefully sustainable practices.

Let’s eat our way to a cleaner world

What if Environmental Responsibility married Yumminess? That’s what happened here — and it gave birth to a whole range of tastefully sustainable practices.

Our mission to save the environment

Starting with the Talloires Declaration in 1990, Tufts has helped write the book on academic activism to promote sustainability. Now for the plot twist: Sustainable practices actually result in even tastier meals. Buying locally leads to dishes bursting with freshness. De-emphasizing methane-producing ingredients inspires our chefs to create amazing plant-forward recipes. Focusing on sustainably-sourced foods can actually up the flavor quotient. (Taste-test a Rainforest Alliance-certified banana versus a store-bought variety.) How’s that for karma?

Here’s just some of what we’re doing

Reducing food waste

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, 30% of all food in the United States is thrown away. From composting to Zero Waste challenges, we strive to keep scraps out of the waste stream. And we’ve succeeded. In fact, as a university, we produce about 50% less waste per meal than our Massachusetts neighbors. (Source)

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Pursuing carbon neutrality

Tufts is committed to going carbon-neutral by 2050. We want to get there even faster. So we’re switching from gas to electric equipment. We’re emphasizing foods with smaller carbon footprints. We're replacing plastic utensils. All our food containers are either fully recyclable or made from recycled or plant-based materials. The list goes on.

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Sourcing food locally

Buying locally can help lower carbon emissions, reduce use of preservatives and pesticides, maintain genetic diversity, and preserve local farmland. Nearly a quarter of all our foods are grown or processed within 250 miles of campus. That includes fruits, veggies, milk, yogurt, granola, bread, seafood, even tofu.

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Trimming meat

Not-so-fun fact: The global livestock industry releases more greenhouse gas than all the cars, planes, trains, and ships in the world combined.1 That’s why we’re moving plant-forward. Our menus keep evolving to feature more vegan and vegetarian choices. Our chefs keep creating new ways to add flavor without adding meat. Come to the next Meatless Monday or Veg-Out and get involved. Spicy black bean burger, anyone?

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Buying Fair Trade Certified products

Small-scale farmers produce over 70% of the world’s food supply,2 yet many struggle to meet their own basic needs. We buy Fair Trade Certified coffees, produce, and more to help overcome this inequity — and because Fair Trade standards help reduce waste, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions; prohibit GMOs and harmful chemicals; and improve soil and water quality, pest management practices, and biodiversity.

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Focusing on Organic Certified ingredients

Whenever possible, we serve USDA Organic Certified foods. No GMOs. No non-organic pesticides or fertilizers. No antibiotics or hormones. Organic is good for the environment — and your tastebuds. Why? The extra care that goes into organic farming tends to produce uniquely flavorful foods that don’t taste mass-produced. End result: yummier peanut butter, tofu, meats, quinoa, pasta, granola, and more when you dine at Tufts.

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REFERENCE COPY

1Carrington, D. Eating less meat essential to curb climate change, says the report. The Guardians. 2014. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/03/eating-less-meat-curb-climate-change. Accessed on August, 2021.

2Maass Wolfenson, K.D. Coping with the food and agriculture challenges: smallholders’ agenda. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2013. Available at: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/nr/sustainability_pathways/docs/Coping_with_food_and_agriculture_challenge__Smallholder_s_agenda_Final.pdf. Accessed on August, 2021.

Vegan and Vegetarian

Let’s eat plant-based cuz it’s so dang good

There are lots of good social, environmental, health, and even moral rationales for emphasizing plant-based cuisine. Here’s our main reason: Popular demand. More than 25% of all Tufts students self-identify as vegan or vegetarian. (Haven’t tried it yet? Prepare to be amazed.)

Best of the best? Ask the herbivore next door

Meet Susannah Murray from Santa Fe. Susannah recently posted her Ultimate Ranking of the Top Ten Vegetarian Meals Served by Tufts Dining. Excerpts appear below. Why not try some of her faves and see if you agree?

Get the Facts

Get a Taste of Susannah’s Top 10

#10. Quinoa-Stuffed Green Peppers at Dewick’s ALL9Free

All9Free, our allergen-free platform within Dewick, serves daily vegan menu items.

What makes the peppers a Top 10 pick, Susannah? “With the tasty quinoa mix, you’re getting tons of vitamins and protein (woohoo!) all wrapped up in a deliciously grilled green pepper.”

#8. Chickpea Salad on a Bagel from Pax et Lox

Our Glatt Kosher deli offers numerous meat-free options, from a fabulous vegan tofu bahn mi to made-to-order sandwiches like Susannah’s favorite. She calls it “the ultimate pick-me-up between classes or on an afternoon study break.”

#7. Build-Your-Own Taco Station at ALL9Free

Dewick’s vegetarian and vegan options are all made with organic whole grains and legumes, plant-based proteins, and veggies. Susannah’s taco reco: “A base of brown rice, then add black beans with poblano, pico, corn, onions, and a big scoop of guac right on top.”

#4. Mediterranean Night at Fresh at Carmichael

At our uphill dining center, you’ll find an abundance of plant-based options, including hearty salads, soups, and pizza. Susannah: “Mediterranean Night has more possible meals than Tufts has majors — and they’re all first-class.”

#4. Ultimate Chocolate Cheesecake

Most desserts at Fresh at Carmichael and Dewick are vegetarian, and many are vegan. Susannah on her #4 pick: “It’s the cheesecake of your dreams, I promise.”

#1. Greens and Grains Bowl at Hodgdon

Hodg offers a variety of made-to-order, plant-based dishes. What led Susannah to give HodgPodge bowls her  #1 ranking? Customization. “You’re in control of every layer.”

#1. Greens and Grains Bowl at Hodgdon

Hodg offers a variety of made-to-order, plant-based dishes. What led Susannah to give HodgPodge bowls her  #1 ranking? Customization. “You’re in control of every layer.”


2 pointers on plant-based dining

Here are suggestions from Kelly Shaw MS RD, our Nutrition Specialist:

“One quick way to spot vegan and vegetarian options is to look for the V (for vegetarian) or VG (for vegan) symbol on our Food Fact cards — they’re posted near all the foods we serve. You can also look up ingredients for our menus on our Online Nutrition Interface.

“Deep-fried foods like French fries and mozzarella sticks may look vegetarian, but the same oil may have been used to fry fish or chicken. When in doubt, ask one of our managers, or stick to the dedicated vegetarian stations in Dewick and Fresh at Carmichael.”

Have a question about vegan or vegetarian dining at Tufts?

Ask Kelly