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Editor | Kate Byng-Hall

The Vegan Chef Crisis

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

As veganism is on the rise, the demand for vegan chefs who are familiar with the plant-based l is now increasing, by Grace Williams. 

In light of this, a new vegan cookery school which opened in London last November has launched a fast-track course to train more people in the art of plant-based cooking. Chantal Di Donato, co-founder of the Vegan Chef Institute, said the scheme was in response to restaurateurs who must train their own staff. “There’s a lot of really good chefs in the industry, but it’s really hard to find enough of them because it’s so new,” she said.

Much of the public who are not vegan assume there is not much to do with the range of food available; a growing number of shops and restaurants are introducing varieties to their menus and courses. For example, Greggs has now introduced a vegan sausage roll which by all accounts is arguably better than the meat one. Also, Co-op has launched a new selection of sandwiches and wraps to their meal deal to bring in new customers with vegan and vegetarian selections now offering clearer labelling on their wine products. It was also the first supermarket to include allergen and ingredient information on its wines.

“A lot of the food on offer was uninspired. But vegan food can be more than just a salad or a roasted cauliflower – that’s why we think this is important,” said Di Donato.

One in eight Britons are now vegan or vegetarian, according to a report released last week by Waitrose and with restaurants now eager to add vegan food onto their menus with a 31% increase. So, if there are a limited number of vegan chefs to portray the great food that is to offer, how will people learn to experience this great food? If someone who makes predominately meat tries to recreate vegan dishes it may not work as well as someone who is culinary trained within this environment. For example, if someone is served a dish that is bland and boring, they may consider staying away from vegan food in the future. 

Many restaurants that made their name on the back of their dairy and meat dishes are converting to serving only plant-based dishes. Gauthier in Soho, a Michelin-starred French restaurant is the face of Alexis Gauthier, a classically trained chef of 25 years, who stopped consuming animal products himself two years ago, therefore becoming the driving force behind the change. 

He said: “Very few of my chefs imagine it’s even possible to be a French chef making purely plant-based food.”

“Even more for the pâtissiers, because French patisserie is full of butter, it’s full of eggs.” Gauthier believes chefs are “the most powerful people within the veganism movement”.

The idea is generated that being curious about trying vegan food is scary, but there is no need. The culinary art of vegan, the sustainable cuisine needs to be showcased by talented vegan chefs to portray there is more to just vegetables, you can create so much with simple ingredients and it can taste so much better than meat or dairy products. It also is not fully about the taste; the compassionate way of living should be a selling point at the heart.  | Tru. 🌱

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