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First Big Ten Chefs’ Summit at IU gathers, talks new plant-based movement



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Humane Society director of food and nutrition Karla Dumas makes several jokes before beginning her presentation at the Big Ten Chefs Summit on Oct. 7 in Read Residence Hall. The presentation discussed healthy plant-based food options at IU. Anna Brown Buy Photos

Chefs from all 14 Big Ten universities gathered this past week at IU to meet with companies, cook together and talk about the future of the industry. The Big Ten Conference Chefs’ Summit keynote speaker set an ambitious goal: She wants 50% of menu offerings in the next five years to be planted-based.

This was the first Big Ten Conference Chefs’ Summit, and events spanned Sunday through Tuesday. The summit provided Big Ten executive chefs the opportunity to network and share ideas in the kitchen. 

“It is a chance for them to get together and cook,” summit founder Bill Anderson said. “What I learned is that a lot of the Big Ten chefs, some know each other, but they all don’t know each other and they definitely have not gotten together to cook.” 

Anderson said the Big Ten Conference is already making strides in providing a multitude of healthy options. He then said he hopes this summit will spur collaboration between chefs from around the conference to return to their respective dining halls with new recipes and feedback.

Dumas said over the past two years the plant-based movement has gained popularity as consumers are moving away from processed meats and toward alternatives. Concerns related to animal cruelty, the environment and personal health are all reasons for the increase in desire for plant-based products.

“The future is now and thinking about how can you lead your industry, lead universities to make these changes,” Karla Dumas said.

Dumas, director of food and nutrition for the Humane Society of the United States, was the summit’s keynote speaker. She presented how the plant-based movement is an industry projected for continuous growth and showed the high demand by younger generations. 

She said it’s important to provide a multitude of options in dining halls to allow students to have the choice to eat a balanced diet. Dumas set an ambitious goal for Big Ten universities. She said she hopes in five years all Big Ten Universities will have planted-based foods take up 50% of the food offerings. 

“What I really hope is that they take it to the next level and lead the shift to not necessarily be satisfied with where they are at, but continue to push that when it comes to plant-based,” Dumas said. 

Dumas noted the multiple accomplishments of Big Ten universities to implement plant-based foods in their programs. IU has recently increased its weekly entrees to include 20% plant-based options.

IU's Executive Director of dining Rahul Shrivastav also said the plant-based meat substitute Beyond Meat is now served at multiple dining locations on the IU campus. 

Anderson said he intends to continue this summit as an annual event taking place at a different Big Ten campus each year. Next year, Anderson said the Big Ten Conference Chefs’ Summit will take place in early October at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. 

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