The new year is all about setting goals and making resolutions, and universities are no stranger to them. This year, UBC Food Services stepped up with UBC Sustainability to promote Meatless Mondays, a new initiative that's been rolled out in dining halls across campus.

Now, Meatless Mondays aren't anything new. But this new focus on the vegetarian options available on campus will hopefully encourage students to keep sustainability in mind when choosing what to eat.

While nobody's forcing anyone to go meatless, the conscious effort of reducing the amount of meat we eat can have a significant effect on the environment. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that meat production creates nearly a fifth of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, creating pressure on natural resources around the world.

So when I visited the Orchard Commons' Open Kitchen for lunch last week, I decided not to grab a hamburger from the Grill and went over to the Vegetarian Kitchen instead. I tried their Botanical Garden Burger for the first time—here's how it went down:

First Look

sweet, vegetable
Owen Yin

The Botanical Burger is one beautiful burger. The purple cabbage is the main focus of the burger, and adds a unique splash of colour. It's a perfect contrast with the golden-brown patty, and it's all sandwiched in-between a crispy brioche bun.

The Taste Test

Despite having a patty that was grilled, the burger was disappointingly cold. Nevertheless, the initial bite delivered a very satisfying crunch. The patty, a yam and quinoa blend, wasn't as chewy as a meat patty, but the softer texture balanced out the crispier cabbage perfectly. I'm not a big fan of yam or cabbage, and I was pleasantly surprised by how I couldn't really taste them. The spices in the patty added a good kick, but the green-chili-and-avocado cream was barely detectable.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Botanical Burger is a much-needed upgrade from the bland veggie burgers I've tried from years past. The burger left me just as satisfied as a beef burger, and was a whole lot less greasy too.

As an added bonus, there's more to the menu than just the Botanical Burger. Also available at the Vegetarian Kitchen were the Bahn Mi Bowl (tofu, pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber and cabbage served over a choice of rice or soba noodles, pictured above), and the Southwest Bowl (black beans, roasted corn, tomatillo salsa, and crunchy tortilla strips served over a choice of brown rice or quinoa with avocado, also pictured above), which is probably the most popular dish at the kitchen.

Options Galore

If those three dishes weren't enough, the kitchen also offers a Curried Chickpea Salad Bowl (chickpeas, kale, and spinach over quinoa or brown rice, pictured above), an Open Kitchen Incredi-bowl (roasted yams, beets, carrots, and edamame over quinoa or brown rice), as well as a self-serve salad bar, fruit parfait bar, and pasta bar.

Meatless Mondays aren't just a new campus fad at UBC. It's a sustainable, filling, and delicious way of eating, whether one day a week, or all year long.