Vegan Chef Gets High School Students Cooking

Speaking about issues of health and food security, James Beard-recognized chef Bryant Terry had students make their own vegan gumbo, “Texas Caviar,” and lavender lemonade.

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Vegan chef and acclaimed cookbook author Bryant Terry recently made a visit to a Berkeley, CA high school to lead a discussion about activism and food security, and to have the group of 60 students cook and prepare their own communal vegan meal. The Oakland-based food justice activist’s menu for the Berkeley Technology Academy students included gumbo, roasted pumpkin seeds, black-eyed pea-based Texas Caviar, and lavender lemonade, according to Berkeleyside. Terry stressed the importance of fighting for healthy food options, especially in low-income neighborhoods similar to ones where many of the alternative high schoolers live, recalling the 53 corner liquor stores and complete absence of grocery stores in West Oakland when he moved to the area in 2008. “You can be media makers and create a counter-narrative around these issues,” he said. The seminar had students, many of whom were initially apprehensive about vegan food, working together and using produce from their campus garden to create their meal. “There was some anxiety about it being vegan,” teacher Dawn Williams said. “A lot of our students are used to eating meat. But by the time we started cooking and everything, the smells and the [building of] community, they weren’t even thinking about that.”