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Vegetarian Dining

Adopting a vegetarian diet also often aligns closely with individuals’ morals and values. Many people choose vegetarianism to avoid harming animals, reduce their impact on climate change, and/or for religious reasons. Others embrace vegetarianism for its health benefits. While vegetarianism has existed for centuries, it saw a revival in the 1960s and '70s, driven by a focus on the environment, science, and morality.”19

Dartmouth recognized this surge in vegetarianism and began accommodating those dietary preferences. The earliest found instance of Dartmouth recognizing and promoting vegetarian options dates back to the 1970s. The Dartmouth published Thayer Dining Halls’ weekly menus, and in March 1975, they began to highlight vegetarian dishes by marking them with a black dot.20 An interesting detail is that meals containing fish were also considered vegetarian, according to the menu’s author. It is unclear whether students also believed eating fish was vegetarian, but if not, Dartmouth’s definition of vegetarianism may have posed another obstacle for vegetarian students.

Dartmouth expanded its vegetarian options with the creation of the Collis Center for Student Life in January of 1979. A pamphlet introducing the Collis Center to campus described its dining Café. The Café “offer[ed] an extensive salad bar, omelettes, hot and cold sandwiches, seasonal soups, homemade pastries, and wide choice of fresh fruits.” Additionally, it “ma[de] a continuing effort to provide vegetarian alternatives to institutional board.”21 Over time, Collis became a popular spot for vegetarians on campus, with one student in the 90s noting they “rel[ied] on Collis for [their] hot meals.” Although Thayer Dining Hall’s Home Plate station “ha[d] healthy food for vegetarians, its quality and variety [did] not compare [to Collis].” The student also found that Home Plate’s “hours [were] too limited.”22

Following Collis’s construction, Dartmouth was determined to establish vegetarian options in its central dining hall. A report from the long-range committee for undergraduate dining indicates that administrators decided to renovate Thayer Dining Hall in 1983 to “provide a more attractive dining ambience (sic) and to respond to the 1980’s market for such services as a la carte dining, a deli and vegetarian selections.”23 Renovating Thayer Dining Hall to offer vegetarian selections was not enough for students, though. Minutes from an April 1986 Committee of Student Life meeting recognize the formation of the “DDA Student Advisory Committee” who were “particularly interest[ed]” in “health foods, food variety, and vegetarian choices.” The minutes also announced that the student in charge of this vegetarian advocacy would “begin [working] with individuals responsible for menu planning.”24 Dartmouth was willing to accommodate vegetarian dietary preferences and respond to student demands for healthier and more diverse food options.

"Karplus explained that although she does not follow kosher or halal dietary restrictions, she was attracted by the wealth of vegetarian options offered at The Pavilion and has been a regular there since it opened at the end of Fall term."

Greater improvements to vegetarian dining occurred in 2001. The creation of the Pavilion at Thayer Dining Hall was important not only for students who kept Kosher and Halal, but also for vegetarian students. The Pavilion originally served fare that followed sakahara dietary guidelines, which is similar to the vegetarian diet.25 This provided a wider range of options for students adhering to vegetarian practices. One student explained that “although she [did] not follow kosher or Halal dietary restrictions, she was attracted by the wealth of vegetarian options offered at The Pavilion and [had] been a regular there since it opened.”26

College kitchen serving vegetables and with TV screen above

Roughly ten years later, following its renovation, the Class of 1953 Commons opened the Herbivore station, which is a station dedicated to offering vegan and vegetarian dining options.27 The opening of the Herbivore station at Foco marked another important step in Dartmouth’s commitment to providing a variety of vegetarian options on campus. A dedicated station to plant-based diets not only met vegetarian students’ needs, but also delivered the message that these students’ needs are important to the College. It further demonstrated Dartmouth’s continued effort to accommodate diverse dietary needs and promote a more inclusive dining experience for all students.


19 Diane M. Mason and Janet T. Mullins, Vegetarian 101: History, Health and Tips, April 2016, https://fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/sites/fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/files/fn-ap-041.pdf.

20 March 31-April 6, 1975 Thayer Dining Hall Menu. The Dartmouth (Hanover, NH), March 31, 1975, Rauner Special Collections Library, Hanover, NH.

21 “Collis College Center at Dartmouth.” September 26, 1979. DP-13, Box 8504, Collis Center, 1979-1980. Dartmouth College, Office of the President (1970-1981 : John George Kemeny) records. Rauner Special Collections Library, Hanover, NH. 

22 Collis Café Market Survey Comments. April 30, 1996. DA-820, Box 11432, Collis/Cafe Meetings. Dartmouth College, Collis Center for Student Involvement records. Rauner Special Collections Library, Hanover, NH.

23 Colligan, Marcia W. et al. “Planning for Undergraduate Dining 1986-87.” 1986-87. DA-8, Box 7479, Dartmouth Dining Association Dean’s Subject Files. Dartmouth College, Dean of the College records. Rauner Special Collections Library, Hanover, NH.

24 Colligan, Marcia W. et al. “C.O.S.L Standing Committee on Dining Minutes of the Meeting - 2 April 86.” April 3, 1986. DA-8, Box 77, COSL Subcomm on U/G Dining 1985-86 Dean of College Files. Dartmouth College, Dean of the College records. Rauner Special Collections Library, Hanover, NH.

 25 Pavilion Dining at Thayer. 2002. DA-857, Vertical Files Collection, Dartmouth Dining Association III, Rauner Special Collections Library, Hanover, NH.

26 Kathleen McDermott, “The Pavilion Opens to Favorable Reviews,” The Dartmouth, January 3, 2002, https://www.thedartmouth.com/article/2002/01/the-pavilion-opens-to-favorable-reviews

27 Chidi Anyadike and Stephen Kirkpatrick, “’53 Commons Consolidates Dining Facilities,” The Dartmouth, August 15, 2011, https://www.thedartmouth.com/article/2011/08/53-commons-consolidates-dining-facilities.

From the Archives

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March 3-9, 1975 Thayer Dining Hall Menu
March 31-April 6, 1975 Thayer Dining Hall Menu
Collis College Center at Dartmouth
C.O.S.L Standing Committee on Dining Minutes of the Meeting - 2 April 86
Planning for Undergraduate Dining 1986-87
Dining Services at Dartmouth Pamphlet
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