UB chefs go vegan

Published November 30, 2017

Campus Dining and Shops (CDS) chefs are submerging themselves in a vegan-only diet — both on campus and at home — this week in an effort to reframe their thinking surrounding plant-based meal planning and execution.

Neal Plazio, CDS executive chef, is leading the vegan team that includes an assistant executive chef, a chef manager, an assistant manager and an assistant director of dining.

“If we are not eating vegan, how can we develop vegan menus?” Plazio asks. “This questions has been asked of us by our students and by ourselves as we try to create new recipes. We have made significant improvements in our vegan offerings in the past year, but walking in someone else’s shoes for the week gives us the ability to understand the struggles they may have on campus.”

The team’s main objective is to assess all dining operations to see where there are opportunities for better or enhanced vegan offerings. Each dining location will be visited during different meal periods — breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night — and the team will share its results to see where adjustments can be made.

Lori Bendersky, a registered dietician and certified dietician nutritionist with CDS, is offering menu suggestions and updating the team using NetNutrition, an online resource and guide to food choices and nutritional information.

“This process will give everyone involved in recipe development an opportunity to have a better feel for different diets,” Bendersky says. “In the future, we are looking to involve other diets and restrictions to really see what our guests are experiencing.”