A diverse selection of students from across the globe attend Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. The college dining hall system is completely vegetarian. Don Campbell / HP staff

Healthy eating is on the menu at Andrews University

BERRIEN SPRINGS — Most people associate college dining halls with the freshman 15, weight gain that comes with unhealthy options and endless buffets. Andrews University, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Berrien Springs, Mich., is an exception.

The college dining hall system is completely vegetarian. Alcohol and tobacco use are forbidden, and even caffeine is nowhere to be found on campus.

Linda Brinegar is the general manager at Bon Appetit Management Co., the sole food service company covering Andrews’ dining halls. She’s a Seventh-day Adventist and vegetarian herself.

“In an effort to go back to (an Eden diet) and to live a healthier life, we focus on plant-based foods,” she said.

Vegetarianism is not mandated by the denomination’s theology, but abstaining from pork products is. The church is concerned with healthy lifestyle, in an effort to treat the body as a temple of God, Brinegar said.

The theological nudge works: nearly 30 percent are vegetarians, and the members are known for their longer-than-average lifespans.

Brinegar said SDA faith and Bon Appetit’s operating philosophy pair well together. The company does not cook with trans fats, MSG or corn syrup. Preparing fresh and from scratch makes the university’s foods different from most dining halls.

According to Niche, a national website ranking colleges and universities by student reviews, Andrews has the fifth best dining hall in the state.

The food serve offers a Beyond Burger at Andrews, but tries to avoid most vegetarian meat substitutes, as Brinegar said they aren’t very healthy. Occasionally, they’ll offer a vegetarian hot dog, as a treat.

“It’s not what we eat once in a while that causes problems for us; it’s what we do every day,” Brinegar said.

Bon Appetit has partnered with the university for 11 years, Brinegar said.

The university no longer has their on-campus farm because of COVID-related and financial restraints, but Brinegar said the dining hall aims to spend 25 percent of their food budget on local farms.

They go through tons of local legumes and tofu, she said.

Andrews’ dining halls are feeling a similar squeeze to other local schools in dealing with supply chain issues.

Brinegar said she has had to go to farms directly to get things like frozen fruits for parfaits and cobblers.

 

This article was first published in the Herald-Palladium on Sept. 25, 2021, and was used with permission.
 

Juliana Knot, Herald Palladium staff writer