UCCS Dining and Hospitality to add more plant-based dishes to campus eateries

January 31, 2017

Audrey Jensen

[email protected]

     Whether it’s an ethical choice or to eat healthier, many people have decided to switch over to a vegan or vegetarian diet to increase plant intake and decrease animal intake.

     For students who eat on campus everyday, those who follow a vegetarian or vegan-based diet, or students who are interested in trying plant-based dishes will find several new plant-based food options to try at different campus food locations this semester.

     On Jan. 12-13, the Humane Society of the United States worked with UCCS to provide a training workshop called Bring Food Foward for around 24 kitchen staff members and some student employees on how to make up to 40 different plant-based dishes, according to Russell Saunkeah, executive chef and associate director of Culinary Services.

     These dishes ranged from entrees for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.

     A few of the entrees the culinary staff learned how to make include chickpea salad sandwiches, roasted eggplant, mushroom street tacos with cilantro cream, bananas foster and tofu chocolate tarts.

     Dining and Hospitality try to provide workshops and training for the chefs every semester, according to Saunkeah.

     “Our food service is always looking for ways to accommodate different kinds of diets; whether that be plant-based, allergy sensitive or regular innovative type of diets,” he said.

     Many students are becoming vegan or vegetarian as a personal life choice, so the demand for plant-based foods has increased in the last 15 years, said Saunkeah.

     “I’ve been here for 16 years. It was certainly not unheard of, but the demand for vegan and vegetarian diet offerings was not as great back then as it is now,” he said.

     “We have to be ready to respond to those students. We have to educate all students on all benefits.”

     Saunkeah said that only several of the new dishes the chefs learned to make will be featured across campus, but mostly in residence dining. Right now, Café 65 offers plant-based food in collaboration with Food Next Door.

     “It’s something as a food service provider that we’ve been looking at. In that sense, we’ve been tracking it as a trend…not just from students, but faculty and staff, along with concerns for health.”

     This workshop was to educate chefs on plant-based entrees so they can in turn educate the students when asked, said Saunkeah.

     Colorado food and nutrition coordinator for The Humane Society of the United States, Regan Karlsen partnered with Saunkeah to host the workshop.

     The Human Society is the U.S.’s largest animal protection organization. Karlsen said that as of right now, their chefs have travelled around the U.S. to host workshops at 40-50 different universities.

     Karlsen said that the purpose of the training is to show people how delicious plant-based food can be.

     “A lot of people think of vegan or plant-based and they think tofu or vegetables. While that can be true, it can be so much more than that,” she said.

     “It’s better for the animals, for us and for the environment. When you eat plant-based, you are leaving out saturated fats.”

     According to the World Health Organization, if Americans cut their meat intake by 20 percent, this would make up for their diet one day per week.

     “I would really like to see people going meatless one day a week, we’re not asking them to go completely vegan or plant-based, but just one day a week, and committing to putting more plants on their plate,” said Karlsen.

     Students interested in learning more information about the Bring Food Forward workshop or plant based entrées can visit humanesociety.org/recipes or forwardfood.org.