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François Murphy demonstrates a vegan meringue technique.François Murphy, a chef with the Forward Food Forward Food program of Humane Society International/Canada, demonstrates a vegan meringue technique to workshop participants Friday.

Plant-based food prep a hit with campus cooks

Deena Wang, international student advisor, says she and her husband are meat lovers but would like to eat more healthy meals. That’s why they joined a workshop on plant-based foods hosted Friday by Food Services in the kitchen in Vanier Hall.

Chef François Murphy of the Canadian branch of Humane Society International led chefs and other interested campus staffers through training in preparing meatless dishes.

“This is very eye-opening,” Wang said. “We love vegetables, and we’re finding so many flavours and textures.”

She said she hopes to incorporate some of what they learned in their Christmas dinner. They especially liked a vegan version of migas, a traditional breakfast dish made with fried tortillas: “You don’t need meat when the flavour is this good.”

Murphy demonstrated a number of recipes for breakfast and dinner — muffins, biscuits, skillets, avocado fries — and how to replace egg whites in meringues with aquafaba, the liquid in which chickpeas are canned.

Riana Topan, manager of the Forward Food program, said it promotes both health and environmental sustainability, but does not require people to become vegan.

“A lot of people are looking for more plant-based options,” she said. “The chefs we work with are talented but don’t necessarily have the training to prepare a meal not centered on meat.”

Executive chef Paolo Vasapolli said that filling that gap was a primary rationale in holding the session.

“It’s all about serving our patrons more variety,” he said. “Our staff will take what we learned and put it into our everyday operations.”