Kitchener-Waterloo

University of Waterloo looking to put more vegan and vegetarian options on the menu

Students at the University of Waterloo will soon be able to load up their plates with more vegan and vegetarian foods. Campus chefs are taking part in plant-based culinary training to learn how to prepare recipes that are meat, egg and dairy-free.

Campus chefs getting plant-based culinary training from Humane Society International/Canada

Chef instructor Wanda White discusses the plant-based recipes that were prepared during the Humane Society's Forward Food program at the University of Colorado. University of Waterloo chefs will be taking part in the program this week. (Humane Society of the U.S./Lance Murphey)

Students at the University of Waterloo will soon be able to load up their plates with more vegan and vegetarian foods.

Campus chefs are taking part in a plant-based culinary training to learn how to prepare meat, egg and dairy-free recipes.

The training is offered by Humane Society International/Canada, which works with universities and organizations looking to expand their menus.

Campaign manager Riana Topan says the Forward Food program started in the U.S. after the Humane Society received a request for culinary training from Harvard University.

"A lot of younger people are more likely to identify as vegetarian or vegan and universities are struggling to find ways to meet this demand sometimes because their chefs haven't always been trained to create dishes that are plant-based, but are also appealing," Topan says.

Through the training, chefs learn about the environmental and health benefits of plant-based diets and then head to the kitchen to prepare a variety of entrees, sides and desserts.

"Crabbyless crab cakes" are one of the most popular recipes from the Forward Food program, according to Riana Topan. The recipe uses hearts of palm, a vegetable harvested from the center of certain palm trees, in place of crab meat. (Humane Society International/Chat Photography)

Variety is the spice of life

Topan says the University of Waterloo is ahead of the curve when it comes to providing vegan and vegetarian options.

Students already have vegan options on the hot buffet lines at campus dining halls and this year the university opened FRSH, it's first all-vegan restaurant.

Executive chef Gordon Cooledge says the feedback from students has been positive so far.

"They love the ideas, they love the freshness of everything, and in our dining hall the vegan choices are going as well as the meat choices," he says.

Cooledge hopes the training will help the university expand its menu, to give students more variety, particularly when it comes to grab-and-go options.

"Because we are the main food service supplier on campus and students eat with us repetitively, we want to offer them as many choices as they want and whatever they want."

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