Non-vegetarian yogurt shocks students

Aditya Udaygiri ’26 used to eat yogurt with nearly every meal in Stanford’s dining hall. Like clockwork, he would fill a bowl with yogurt – preferably strawberry flavored – and top it with granola. 

Then one day, he noticed the orange V label, which means that the food item is vegetarian, was missing. As someone who follows a vegetarian diet for ethical reasons, Udaygiri remembers being a “little disappointed” when he noticed this change, marking the end of his daily yogurt routine. 

In dining halls across campus, the full-fat, non-fat and Greek yogurt options all retain the vegetarian label. However, the current low-fat options, including the vanilla, peach and strawberry flavors, all contain Kosher gelatin, which is typically made from fish bones or bovine hides. Often, especially at smaller dining halls, only one type of yogurt is offered at a time.

The ingredients of the plain low fat yogurt are listed on it's ingredient card, including kosher gelatin.
Among its ingredients, the low-fat varieties of yogurt contain kosher gelatin, making them not vegetarian. (ANANYA UDAYGIRI/The Stanford Daily) 

According to Jocelyn Breeland, Resident and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) spokesperson, post-pandemic supply chain issues have continued to impact the availability of vegetarian yogurt. “Some vendors are unable to supply the quantities we need. Others require even larger orders that exceed what we can serve or store,” she wrote.

Caeley Woo ’26 wrote that she didn’t know that the low-fat yogurt wasn’t vegetarian until talking with The Daily. Though the non-vegetarian yogurt has been labeled correctly, many students assume that yogurt is a vegetarian option.

Woo wrote that, though she’s not vegetarian, she tries to eat pescatarian and learning that the low-fat yogurt options weren’t vegetarian was “a little sad.” 

Though specific nutrition facts beyond ingredient lists are not available for most Stanford Dining options, yogurt usually contains a significant amount of protein, averaging 9 to 20 grams of protein per cup depending on type and brand. Since vegetarians do not eat meat or fish, yogurt is typically seen as a convenient, higher-protein alternative. 

For Udaygiri, the thwarted expectation that yogurt would be a consistently vegetarian choice was similarly saddening. 

“When you already have a restrictive diet and you go into a dining hall and you can’t eat the things you expected to eat, it’s just a little sad,” he said. “I just wish there were more options for me.” 

Even students who rarely touch the yogurt are disappointed, like Sofia Vera Verduzco ’25, who tries to avoid dairy as a self-proclaimed “aspiring vegan.” 

“I was pretty shocked,” she wrote, “It just seems unnecessary to put gelatin in yogurt.” 

Though vegetarian and vegan students like Verduzco have recognized improvement in the dining hall’s plant-based options over the past few years, qualms concerning limited options remain. 

Verduzco writes that there are some meals when she feels “beans and hot vegetables” are her only options. Though most dining halls tend to serve at least one plant-based protein option per meal, lack of choice can deter potential plant-based eaters. “It’s especially hard for people who are wanting to make the transition to [becoming] vegetarian or vegan to see that the tastefulness and quality of vegetarian/vegan options are so much worse than animal-based options,” she wrote.

Breeland wrote that Stanford Dining is “working to identify suppliers who can make [vegetarian yogurt] available, again, in the dining halls.” 

For now, however, students following a vegetarian diet will have to skip the low-fat yogurt.