Vegan school lunch entrées have three times more fiber than meat-based entrées and are popular among students, according to a pilot study. Physicians Committee dietitians and researchers partnered with D.C. Central Kitchen to pilot six vegan entrées at a K-8 school in Washington, D.C.
The entrées featured engaging names such as Veg Out Chili and Powered Up Pasta and met all National School Lunch Program nutrient requirements. Marketing efforts and student interaction, including food demos, tastings, and participation incentives, resulted in student acceptability. The vegan entrées had zero cholesterol, compared with an average of 54 milligrams in the standard entrées. The vegan dishes also had more fiber, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C, and less fat and saturated fat, compared with the standard entrées.
Plate waste did not exceed that of standard entrées, and several vegan menu options became part of the regular rotation after the pilot. These results may encourage food service providers to implement similar programs in their schools.