Illustration by Zelalem Waritu

NYUAD Celebrates No Waste November and Vegan Day

Students share their thoughts on the university’s commitment to environmental impact as it celebrates No Waste November and World Vegan Day.

Nov 8, 2020

On Nov. 1, NYU Abu Dhabi marked the first day of “No Waste November” and “World Vegan Day.” While No Waste November has been celebrated at NYUAD for years, the university’s explicit recognition of World Vegan Day is a new feat.
No Waste November is a month revered by environmentalists and sustainability fanatics. For some, it is a way to personally track their own consumption habits, making note of how much waste they produce and how they can address it. At NYUAD, this month has typically consisted of sustainability workshops, education campaigns and the famous “pledges” to reduce our footprint.
Ecoherence, NYUAD’s sustainability and environmental advocacy Student Interest Group, will be hosting virtual events and workshops to accommodate students on and off campus. To help improve sustainability efforts and encourage low waste options, the SIG is organizing events like Trivia Night, scheduled for Nov. 16 and D.I.Y. workshops to make decorations, bags and more. They have also started developing an online version of the popular “Swap Shop,” where students can buy, sell and trade used clothing instead of turning to fast fashion. Although the month looks very different this year, the SIG is still trying to make the month as educational and conducive to change as ever.
Nov. 1 was also globally recognized as World Vegan Day, which is celebrated around the world with the purpose of increasing awareness on the benefits of this lifestyle. This year, Veggie Might — the plant-based SIG on campus — collaborated with the official NYUAD Instagram to showcase the vegan lifestyle both on and off campus, and at a Go Local site.
While Instagram takeovers may seem like a small feat, this is a huge win for the plant-based community and environmentalists. Members of the E-Board for Veggie Might noted that the event truly helped them get more exposure and normalize a lifestyle that is often seen as radical.
Aya Adib, Class of 2024, viewed the recognition from the school as a huge success.
“The takeover provided us a larger platform to present veganism in a more favorable light than the mainstream media,” said Adib.
Following the takeover, students showed more interest in the lifestyle, with many reaching out to the SIG and its leaders for tips on limiting animal products.
However, the collaboration between Veggie Might and NYUAD was not limited to just the virtual community. The dining hall and the Market Place had special vegan meals and snacks such as açaí, nut milk beverages and vegan ice cream to celebrate World Vegan Day. Off-campus students were also excited about the university’s participation, with some saying they wish they were there for the festivities.
“Hopefully they make it a tradition,” remarked Sofia Fortuño, Class of 2023. This event is just one example of the university’s movement towards more plant based diets.
“I really like that they’re expanding options. It’s nice going from 3 vegan dishes to 8 or more every meal,” added Joao Bosco de Lucena, Class of 2023. His only complaint was that the salad bar doesn’t always have the same options, so it can be hard to stay consistent. He shared that his favorite addition to D2 is the chocolate and coconut vegan ice cream.
But what prompted the change for the university to recognize World Vegan Day? A member of Public Affairs shared that platforms like Instagram help build and maintain community, and it also gave Ecoherence a voice on the main NYUAD account.
“Given NYU’s recent commitment to reduce food related greenhouse gas emissions, we felt it was a great way to show our community how to learn more about veganism,” they said.
The increased presence of vegan and vegetarian options is not something isolated to just No Waste November and World Vegan Day. On Oct. 14, NYU announced that they would be taking part in the “Cool Food Pledge,” a global initiative to “reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions”. This pledge means drastically increasing the availability of plant based options in dining halls in NYU New York, Shanghai and Abu Dhabi. By increasing the presence of these options and making substitutions more accessible, the goal is to normalize what is often seen as a strange or radical change. Again, Adib thought this is another step in the right direction and exactly what the Cool Food Pledge strives to achieve.
“The best way of enacting change is by introducing it into people’s everyday lives,” she added.
Although sustainability efforts look different this year, actions like these help ensure that efforts are not lost, even in the depths of a pandemic. No Waste November may be held online, but it still has the possibility of promoting sustainability efforts all month long, and creating change on and off campus. The university's recognition of the environmental and health benefits of vegan and vegetarian diets is a huge step forward in reducing our carbon footprint, and our environmental impact.
Colleen Mader is a Staff Writer. Email her feedback at
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