So, quick background here, I'm lead cook at a small private college in Seattle. I just had the chance to meet the class of incoming freshman this last week and cook for them during our registration/tour/meet'n'greet extravaganza. It turns out many of these incoming students are vegans, enough so that we'll have to make some serious changes in the next school year in the way we cook our three meals a day for 400-500.
Our services break down like this: We'll have two "mainstage" items. This will be the featured entrees for that service. One of these items will always be vegetarian. They might be variations of same thing, like a meat lasanga and a veggie lasagna, or completely different, like a chicken marsala and a pasta primavera. On top of this we run a grill for burgers and chicken and such and a giant pizza oven for pizza, of course, and whatever else we can fire in a high-temp oven, along with several grab n' go items and a salad/deli bar.
My first idea on dealing with our vegan uprising is to make every vegetarian option a vegan option. This would take care of the "veg" crowd a a two-birds-one-stone kind of way. (although that crowd would unhappy with that analogy!) Another idea is too make the salad/veggie bar and grab n' go items much more vegan friendly. Why not do both, you ask? Well, I could, and I should, but (and here's the heart of this post) how?
I don't want to rely on fake meat products. They ones that actually taste good are very expensive and would kill my food cost. I can't do tofu/tempeh all the time. I hate hate hate with a passion fake cheese products. Nutritional yeast smells and tastes like jock strap. So I'm left with veggies and grains.
Vegans out there: what do you suggest? What would you like to see if you were a student at my school? What do you like that could be made on a large scale? What are you sick of seeing on menus as vegan options? Any cookbook suggestions?