UBC Undergraduate Research

Food Skills, Habits, and Preferences at UBC : An exploratory survey to inform the creation of an Online Food Hub and promote a nourishing, sustainable, and equitable food system on the UBC Vancouver campus Sutton, Caroline; Kim, Vicky; Yu, Crystal; Chan, Rachel; Varghese, Akhila; Tung, Lynn; Dhaliwal, Rajdeep; Shin, Egon; LeGault, Cara; McLester, Kristen; Gonchar, Karin; Rossa-Roccor, Verena


In order to improve student health and wellbeing while reducing carbon emissions and being a leader in sustainability, UBC should support and promote plant-based foods and diets. The objectives of this study were to explore food skills, habits, and preferences at UBC, including gauging perceptions on and barriers to plant-based diets, and what types of tools and resources UBC community members would look for in an Online Food Hub. A survey (available upon request) was distributed over social media and by email using Qualtrics, and descriptive statistical analysis was conducted. A total of 368 participants completed the survey, with a majority of the population consisting of domestic undergraduate students at the UBC Vancouver campus. Most students self-prepared most meals, ate some take-out meals on campus weekly, and were limited in budget and time. Most students were open to the idea of switching to a plant-based diet and were interested in resources on how to eat healthy on a budget, budgeting tools and nutritional information, and learning new food preparation skills. The biggest barriers to eating more plant-based foods on campus were fears about nutritional and protein deficiencies, cost (plant-based options that are cheaper than meat options are greatly desired), and lack of variety. Students want to see cheaper and a greater diversity of plant-based food options on campus. There are a variety of initiatives that UBC stakeholders can support through communication and collaboration with existing on-campus groups in order to promote plant-based diets, including the creation of an Online Food Hub that addresses the need for resources to help students eat more healthy, plant-based, low-cost, and delicious food. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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