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Plant-Forward “Rooted” Menu Offers Many Health Benefits

Build your own Plantiful salad with only the items you enjoy, limiting food waste and saving additional plastic containers from the landfill.

Everyone deserves to eat well, which is why the Faculty Student Association (FSA) makes it its mission to serve authentic, craveable and sustainable cuisine every day. Whether you’re a flexitarian, vegetarian or carnivore, or you just want to eat healthier, head over to East Side or West Side dine-in to try all new plant-based recipes at “Rooted.”

CulinArt has recharged Rooted, the 100% vegan platform with all new center of the plate worthy menu options that are focused on wellness and sustainability. These delicious dishes are available for breakfast, lunch and dinner! 

Build your own Plantiful salad with only the items you enjoy, limiting food waste and saving additional plastic containers from the landfill.
Build your own Plantiful salad with only the items you enjoy, limiting food waste and saving additional plastic containers from the landfill.

One of the biggest benefits of animal products is the protein they provide, however, plants can also give you an abundance of protein, which can be a substitute for animal protein. Many vegans eat a plant-based diet to improve their overall health and wellness, add new protein options, and to help protect the environment and live more sustainably. For many other people, choosing foods is not about health or maintaining a diet but rather preserving a culture, a religion or a faith, simply embodying a way of life. Eating a plant-based diet is often motivated by a respect for humans, faith and compassion for animals.

Rooted’s three-week menu cycle includes global cuisines such as Indian, Middle Eastern, African and many other regions and countries around the world. While the Chef’s table at dine-in offers many global flavors, the Rooted station now offers the same options with a vegan twist. “We are bringing the power of plant protein to everyday eating with menu options that have a real WOW factor,” stated Registered Dietitian Laura Martorano.

A few of our favorite plant-based protein products that can help you make the transition to a more sustainable diet include the kimchi quesadilla, tofu scrambles, avocado and black bean enchiladas with cilantro lime rice, and the sesame ginger soba noodles with crispy tofu, spinach and edamame. View all of the options Rooted has to offer via the Nutrislice app.

West Side dine-in also offers an extension of the Rooted station with the “Plantiful Table,” which incorporates the option of a salad green, grain and an “energizer” (bean, lentils, seeds and toppings). Instead of side salads, students can build their own composed salad with only the items they enjoy, limiting food waste and saving the additional plastic containers from the landfill. 

“Research has shown that individuals who do consume all plant-based proteins express that they feel more energetic and feel less inflammation, and there is a benefit to increasing your intake of plant-based foods, such as assisting in weight management, blood sugar control and helping to provide the important phytochemicals, antioxidants and important vitamins and minerals,” stated Martorano. Other stations on campus also offer additional choices such as chili with beans or lentils, veggie burgers or stir-frys with vegetables as the main attraction. 

Each semester the FSA collects feedback about student preferences through online feedback forms, social media channels, QR codes in the dining locations and students connecting with dining managers at the location. The fall semester has shown that many students are looking for tasty ways to add more plant-based foods into their diet. This comes as no surprise after a recent Gallup survey found that 77% of Americans had reduced meat consumption in the past twelve months and almost six in ten Americans report that they are transitioning to a more flexitarian or semi-vegetarian diet.

Foods to Eat

Vegans may be at an increased risk for certain nutrient deficiencies, however, a vegan diet that includes nutrient-rich whole and fortified foods can help provide adequate nutrient levels. Health-conscious vegans substitute animal products with plant-based replacements such as:

  • Tofu, a protein-rich alternative to meat, fish, poultry and eggs in many recipes.
  • Legumes, beans, lentils and peas are excellent sources of many nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. Exchanging beans for meat is a great low-fat option that gives you a healthy amount of protein and fiber and the added nutritional benefits of antioxidants, promoting heart and stomach health and also stabilizing blood glucose.
  • Nuts and nut butters are good sources of iron, fiber, magnesium, zinc, selenium and vitamin E. 
  • Seeds, especially hemp, chia and flaxseeds contain protein and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Calcium-fortified plant milks and yogurts help vegans achieve their recommended dietary calcium intakes. 
  • Whole grains cereals are a great source of complex carbs, fiber, iron, B-vitamins and minerals. 
  • Sprouted and fermented plant foods such as kimchi often contain probiotics and vitamin K2.
  • Fruits and vegetables increase your nutrient intake and leafy greens such as bok choy, spinach, kale and watercress are high in iron and calcium.

Join us for Meatless Mondays!

Meatless Monday is a global movement that encourages people to reduce meat in their diet for their health and the health of the planet. Start each week with Meatless Monday and remember to eat more fruits, vegetables and plant-based meals throughout the rest of the week. View the Nutrislice app each Monday for new menu options including the tofu po’ boy and chickpea tagine with rainbow carrots.

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