Mean Greens Cafe turns 10 and looks to future expansions – North Texas Daily

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The nation’s first all-vegan dining hall, which sits behind Maple Hall on the south side of campus, began crafting award-winning vegan recipes 10 years ago and introduced a hydroponic garden to campus to grow fresh produce. .

On November 3, Mean Greens Cafe filled with students, alumni, parents and staff like hors d’oeuvres were served and a live band performed. The dining hall was celebrating 10 years of providing quality vegan food to the university community and reducing the school’s carbon footprint through green culture processes and efforts in the building, such as reusing scraps and recycling.

“It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of love to provide the food,” said Cristopher Williams, General Manager and Assistant Manager. “There is a lot of attention to detail and we want everyone to have the best experience here.”

mean greens made history when it opened in 2011 as the country’s first 100% vegan university dining hall and has since won several awards honoring its commitment to food quality.

He was named the “Best Vegan Dining Experience in North Texas” by Dallas Culture Map in 2018 and his tomato curry recipe won Gold in the Best Vegan Recipe of 2020 category from the National Association of Colleges and University Food Services Nutrition Awards.

“It has to do with technique,” ​​said executive chef Matthew Ward. “We stick to real-world culinary techniques and only use vegan products, we try not to over-complicate things.”

Linguistics junior Joseph McCreary has been a vegetarian for seven years and said he was grateful to have these food options available on campus. As a transfer from the University of Oklahoma, McCreary didn’t have the same vegan dining options at his old school.

“When I was transferred here, one of the things I was most excited about was coming to try Mean Greens,” said McCreary. “A lot of places have more options these days, but it’s really nice and very convenient to have a place on campus that’s so good to do that. […] and you don’t have to worry. It’s a relief honestly.

The cafe also strives to provide its food in an environmentally friendly way. Mean Green Acres, UNT’s own hydroponic garden, is built on a repurposed tractor-trailer and grows five to 11 different types of lettuce and herbs throughout the year. Williams said the garden reduces food shipments and the university’s carbon footprint while providing non-GMO ingredients to students.

“Most of the stuff you get in the store has already been in transit for probably four or five days before you even get there, which takes away the freshness there,” Williams said. “Here, we shoot [the food] comes out and it immediately goes to the back for processing and we put it right on the salad bar. It’s awesome.

Mean Greens staff hope to soon expand the hydroponic garden program on campus so that Mean Green Acres can supply all of the fresh herbs and leafy greens served on campus. The cafe itself may also move to a larger building on campus due to its popularity.

“It’s a semi-top secret project underway for us to move to another building on campus,” Williams said. “Hopefully once we move in there, we can increase our seats up to about three times and scale the farm up to three or four times on site so that we can encompass the whole university with the program. “

The featured image: The sign for the Mean Greens dining room hangs above the door on November 8, 2021. Photo by John Anderson

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