Maastricht goes Vegan – tasty and social

For a casual way to explore tasty plant-based cuisine in good company, you may want to check out Maastricht goes Vegan, a non-profit cooking event. Werner Teeling of the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience is one of the organisers. 

“It’s a pretty unique concept,” explains Werner Teeling, part of the Maastricht goes Vegan (MgV) core team and student communication officer at FPN. “It’s not really a workshop or a cooking club. There are no commitments – you can just sign up and swing by.”

MgV is organised by a core team of around five people on Tuesdays from 18.00 to around 22.00. “It’s 25 to 30 people cooking together – although some of them might join only for dinner and skip the cooking.” There are three chefs – for starter, main, and dessert – and people choose whom to join, although they can always switch during the course of the evening. “The chefs talk you through the recipe and you prepare the food together.” The rhythm is relaxed enough to make friends and no prior cooking skills are required.

MGV

Tasty food and good conversations

“The focus isn’t actually on veganism,” explains Teeling, “it’s about experimenting with new recipes and new ingredients, cooking tasty plant-based food and also making it look nice.” MgV shares all of the recipes they’re trying out. These range from entirely new creations to vegan adaptations of classics to traditional vegan dishes from the cuisines of the changing chefs from around the world, from India to Mexico, from the Mediterranean to the Baltic Sea.

While sustainability is the key concern for many looking to follow a more plant-based diet, organic or local produce is not always affordable or expedient. “We try to do the best we can, but it only costs a tenner to join and that includes a drinks voucher…” With three courses and said drink included, health-consciousness isn’t really a top priority for MgV. “I don’t think many of the desserts we’ve made qualify as healthy,” laughs Teeling, himself a frequent chef for desserts. “We go for flavour – and that often means sugar, salt and fat…” It’s not a soy-fest either. “Personally, I’ve learnt how to prepare tofu and tempeh from going to MgV, but the recipes and ingredients are very diverse.”

MGV

Vague-anism and outreach

MgV takes place weekly in Landbouwbelang (LBB), a squatted industrial building on the river Maas that also hosts cultural events. While LBB evokes certain connotations, Teeling stresses that MgV is a broad church. “We’re apolitical and while it’s lots of students and young professionals, we also have people in their 60s.” Intriguingly, MgV isn’t that vegan either. “Most of the visitors are omnivores or flexitarians – and who am I to judge anyone’s choices. It’s not about changing anyone’s mind; it’s about preparing and enjoying plant-based food together and having interesting conversations.”

Teeling estimates about half of the participants to be UM students – much more at the beginning of semester, much fewer during holidays. “It would be nice to reach more UM staff as well. The original idea was to show as many people as possible what plant-based food can be. We’re always trying to reach a broader audience.” This is why MgV is now also organising a monthly meet-up on Saturdays in the InnBetween, Maastricht’s student chaplaincy; so far with great success. “It’s a cosier setting and the timeslot is more accommodating for working people, so hopefully it’ll help us draw an even more diverse audience.”

Growing sustainable

With the city of Maastricht planning to demolish the LBB, MgV also has to find a new long-term venue, one that is affordable to a non-profit organisation without subscriptions and can hold enough people. “When we started, ten years ago, the idea of veganism or just eating less meat was still quite fringe,” Teeling remembers. “You can see how the participant numbers increased over time – now we even have to turn down last minute applicants.” People can sign up via email, Facebook or Instagram for every meet-up without any further obligations. “Just come along – it’s tasty and fun.”

Text: Florian Raith
Photos: Maastricht goes Vegan

Werner Teeling

Werner Teeling is student communication officer at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.

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