Exploring the possibilities of plant-based food

Wolfson students enjoying plant-based food

Last month, Wolfson students and staff joined forces with teams across the University and beyond to champion the possibilities of plant-based food.   

Wolfson students enjoying plant-based food

The ‘Plant-based Possibilities’ event brought together Wolfson members alongside Cambridge University Press & Assessment, the Universities central Sustainability Team, and our own Wolfson College Sustainability and Conservation Hub.  

The intention was to showcase plant-based food alternatives, discuss the issues facing global food production, and highlight some of the ways organisations and suppliers are working to make a difference. 

A student-led panel also discussed new research and data, including the impact of subsidies, carbon labelling, and the health and wellbeing advantages of plant-based food – as well as highlighting the significant impacts eating less meat can have on reducing individual and institutional carbon footprints.  

Adam Swift, Communications Co-ordinator for Cambridge University Estate Management, said: “It is clear that systemic change is needed in our food systems to mitigate against many of the environmental issues we face. Plant-based Possibilities was an inspirational event showing how straightforward it can be to lighten our footprint on the planet, simply by thinking a little bit more about what we eat.”  

“It was empowering to learn from the different speakers how our food choices can make such a difference, and about the huge variety of plant-based options that are now available to us. A big thumbs-up to the catering teams for the delicious and nourishing food provided for lunch!” 

At the heart of the event was the food itself. Plant-based suppliers joined the event, including Heura, Omni and EatPlanted, alongside representatives from Veganuary and Cambridge Sustainable Food. The Wolfson catering team then expertly cooked up plant-based dishes to showcase the options available.   

Plant-based food at Wolfson

Tim Hurst, Wolfson College Head Chef, said: “This is just the kind of event that illustrates the enormous potential and richness of plant-based food. We’ve already taken steps to increase the plant-based food options in College – this academic year, we committed to offering both a vegetarian and a vegan option for all cafeteria services.

“Students and other College members are clearly enjoying it. In Michaelmas 2022, 37% of the meals purchased in the cafeteria were vegetarian or vegan, compared with 14% in Michaelmas 2021. And we’re now discounting vegan and vegetarian meals on the menu too – to incentivise more people to try out the great options we have available.”

This vegan subsidy is part of a Cafeteria Sustainability Initiative run by Selwyn student, Clara Ma from the Land Economy department, with five other Cambridge colleges currently signed up to the initiative.

“There’s more to come too,” says Tim. “I’m keen to introduce more events like these, and eventually offer people the opportunity to attend vegan Formal Halls, where we can really showcase the depth of great vegan food”.

Read more about sustainability at Wolfson

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Wolfson wins highest University award for sustainable practice

Green Impact: Sustainability at Wolfson, a Platinum College (University Sustainability website)