Monday, 9 November 2009

The Vegan Tapas Bar and a Journey to the Isle of Wight

Wikipedia defines veganism as:

Veganism is a diet and lifestyle that seeks to exclude the use of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. Vegans endeavor not to use or consume animal products of any kind. The most common reasons for becoming a vegan are ethical commitment or moral conviction concerning animal rights, the environment, human health, and spiritual or religious concerns. Of particular concern to many vegans are the practices involved in factory farming and animal testing, and the intensive use of land and other resources for animal farming.

Vegan diets (sometimes called strict or pure vegetarian diets) are a subset of vegetarian diets. Properly planned vegan diets are healthful and have been found to satisfy nutritional needs. Poorly planned vegan diets can be low in levels of calcium, iodine, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Vegans are therefore encouraged to plan their diet and take dietary supplements as appropriate. Various polls have reported vegans to be between 0.2% and 1.3% of the U.S. population, and between 0.25% and 0.4% of the UK population.

At Pembroke we have a few students that follow a vegan lifestyle but they are very much in the minority. The vast majority of Pembroke students enjoy a varied diet consisting of all the major food groups, hence the wide variety of food on offer in hall and the servery.

So why do we take up so much time, space and effort with a vegan tapas bar?
My intention in early 2008 was to re-vamp the food offering to include more healthy options i.e., more vegetables and pulses and fewer fried items. The tapas bar was designed to offer multiple healthy alternatives to the normal ‘meat and two veg’ options that most Colleges offered.
Students looking to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet could now purchase a selection of tapa's with pita bread and fruit or, if they preferred meat and fish, the tapas offered a large selection of vegetables and pulses to accompany their meal.

The dishes came about from my desire to see good portion control; previously food was simply spooned onto the plate and the portion size determined as much by the food server, as by the size of spoon they used, the item they were serving, or whether the student was male or female (this last factor was never proven but widely commented on!)

The tapas bar has had it fair share of critics; some have asked for two selections of tapas to be served in one dish (which we cannot do as it leads to cross contamination), others have stated a preference for their food being served on a plate and not in a little dish (I never understood this as it’s very easy to empty the dish onto your plate when you sit down).
But, for the vast majority of customers the tapas have been a big hit.
 To-date (13:56 on 09/11/09) we have served:

216,010 Portions!

If we placed each of the 216,010 tapas dishes end to end they would stretch all the way to the Isle of Wight (including the eight mile ferry crossing)!

That is 157 miles of healthy eating- show me a college that can beat that?


  1. The side-bar offeres rather large portions, which usually contain much more food of one type than I wish to eat. I (and I know I'm not alone) would appreciate it if we could have half-and-half serving, for example half a dish of rice with half a dish of carrots. This would reduce wasted food and would make our dinners a bit more exciting by doubling the number of different side-dishes we can have for the same price.

    Karoliina Lehtinen.

  2. Thanks for letting my know...looks amazing! If only I lived closer :(