Even in the Longhorn state, where the cattle industry is king, veganism has made a mark.

At the start of the fall semester, more than 36,000 students at the University of North Texas (UNT) were given a new dining option with the introduction of a completely vegan cafeteria. Mean Greens dining hall, which in recent years has received national acclaim for its healthy menu, began offering vegan fare on August 22.

Ken Botts, director of special projects for Dining Services, said in a press release that UNT began developing the all-vegan concept about a year ago, in an effort to offer more variety and even healthier options to diners. Botts said the makeover was based on feedback from students and aligns with university dining trends emerging across the U.S.

“Most schools only have one or two cafeterias, so it is difficult for them to dedicate an entire dining hall to one type of cuisine,” Botts said. “We are fortunate to have five cafeterias on our campus, so it made sense to diversify the dining halls to offer more variety. UNT has a very diverse population with many different tastes and lifestyles, and we believe that this new dining option will be attractive to current students and community members.”

With the cafeteria being completely vegan, diners who want to follow special diets or just eat healthier food can do so. The menu was designed with an emphasis on ensuring diners get sufficient levels of protein and vitamins. Entrées like protein salads will include protein-rich ingredients like beans, nuts and seeds. Nutritional yeast enriched with B12 will be used in the preparation of breads and other baked goods.

“Vegan food sometimes gets a bad rap as being bland or dry, but our culinary team has been developing and testing menu items for months and promises a flavorful menu,” said Botts.