A new green initiative has come to UW, and Watson’s Eatery at St.Paul’s has taken advantage of this idea. Meatless Mondays is a campus-wide sustainability initiative aimed at encouraging students to choose meat-free options, or at the very least, reduce the amount of meat they depend on in their diet. While some places on campus have somewhat adjusted to the new ideas and menus, Watson’s Eatery on St. Paul’s campus has an executive chef that is fired up and ready to show students the versatility of veggies.
Alyshia Ryder is chef manager at Watson’s Eatery and at only 25, has over 11 years’ experience in the culinary arts world, and over six years of executive kitchen positions. She took some time out of her busy cooking schedule to speak to Imprint about the Meatless Mondays initiative and how she is working to encourage sustainable eating.
Ryder said she was first introduced to sustainable, local meals when she joined the St. Paul’s team nine months ago.
“I think the biggest misconception about our Meatless Mondays is that it’s all about not eating meat for the ethical treatment of animals. And that is a nice bonus, but it’s not even the biggest reason we encourage these meatless days. Livestock production is a huge source of emissions, almost 18 percent worldwide, and so finding alternative proteins is an environmental choice as much as it is an ethical one,” explained Ryder.
She says many students think that meatless food are just regular recipes with the meat missing. This is a misconception Watson’s is trying to correct.
“One of our biggest hits is vegetarian lasagna. It’s so amazing because it’s not just lasagna without meat — it’s lasagna with lots of extra cheese and veggies added to make up for what some people might say is ‘missing.’”
Ryder says the key to trying new, meatless meals is to take baby steps and to try new things.
“I always start by mixing extra veggies into whatever it is I’m making. Or I’ll treat the protein I’m working with just like meat — marinate it, grill it — these are things you can do with tofu and mushrooms. It doesn’t take much to liven up fresh ingredients,” said Ryder.
Ryder noted that along with Meatless Mondays, Watson’s is also a huge proponent of locally-grown food and is supplied by 100km Foods, a local company that provides food of all types to corporate kitchens.
“We get local cheeses, seasonal vegetables, and local bread, and it really helps keep the amount of emissions we are responsible for down. Also it’s great supporting local businesses, getting to know your suppliers is important and lots of fun too,” said Ryder.
The sustainability goals don’t end there. Along with sustainable food sources, Watson’s Eatery uses a number of cost- and energy-saving tips for their kitchens.
“We use cold trays and that helps us save close to 80 litres of water every day. That’s huge,” Ryder said. “We also have a schedule for the heat lamps and display lights so that they are blaring all day long, we have them on only when we really need to. We try to do lots of little things around the kitchen and it all adds up to big savings.”
Still think Meatless Mondays has nothing to satisfy your meaty needs? With dishes like Mac and Cheese Croquettes, stir fry’s, Chimi Chongas, and pitas the size of your face, everyone is sure to find something they enjoy that is good for their body, environmentally responsible, and, most importantly, freakin’ delicious!