The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Being Vegan in a Foodservice Class

Posted on January 03, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Casey Brown, former VRG Intern

As a Dietetics Student at the University of Maryland, College Park, we
are required to take Foodservice Operations. One of our projects for
this class was to work in groups of three and design a theme meal to
serve 55 people. This meal had to meet certain requirements for
nutritional standards and budgeting.

As a vegan, I was hoping that our meal could be 100% plant-based. I
met with my friends who were my group members (both of them were
non-vegetarians), and they were both eager to design a vegan menu. We
all knew it would be a unique meal plan. It would likely be lower cost
since we did not have to purchase meats, it would be lower in fat, and
it would show everyone that vegan food can be nutritious and delicious!

After forming our groups, the first step was to design our menu. We had
to pick a theme for our meal and then decide on our recipes. Our menu
had to consist of a bread, an appetizer, an entree, a starch, a
vegetable, and a dessert. As a group, we made a huge list of potential
vegan recipes that we could use and then used those options to select
our theme. We originally planned to do a Southwestern Vegan menu, but
ultimately decided to do a Plant-based Picnic theme. Our professor was
hesitant about our menu since meat is the main component of the meal in
her culture. She was skeptical about us serving tofu, but she let us
continue on as we planned. Our menu underwent many changes as we
continuously planned the meal and tried new recipes. The final menu
consisted of herb drop biscuits, an autumn fruit salad, tofu strips with
ketchup, grilled zucchini, a couscous salad, and key lime pies. While
planning the menu seemed like hard work, there was a lot left to do. We
had to quantify all of the recipes to serve 55 people, determine the
nutritional content of each item, determine the overall cost of the
meal, schedule each of the student employees for the day, and more. It
was time consuming but rewarding work, which paid off in the end.

On the day of the theme meal, we decorated the room with picnic
tablecloths, mason jars with flowers and greenery, and upbeat music.
While the dining room appeared peaceful, the kitchen was fairly hectic.
We had eight people to cook enough food for 55 people in three and a
half hours, and it was our first day in the kitchen. Even though all of
the dishes piled up, the seven of the recipes were prepared and ready to
serve by lunch time. We had about 30 reservations for our meal and
additional to-go orders. In total we served about 45 people, including
our professor, who was very impressed with the meal. We received decent
reviews on almost every item, although not everyone seemed to like the
couscous salad (this was most likely due to a lack of seasoning). We
received comments that the meal was “so yummy,” “perfectly cooked,” and
a “delicious, filling, and healthy meal.”

It was such an exciting event being able to prepare and serve vegan
recipes to such a large crowd! These individuals often come to our theme
meals, which are usually not vegan. It was a great opportunity to expose
people to these recipes and show them that vegan meals taste great and
are healthy!

To see the recipes we prepared, visit:

For foodservice information, see:

For information about VRG internships, see:

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