Carrots, avocado and quinoa everywhere: health and veganism are the clear themes during the Sustainable Foodlab’s vegan cooking workshop on Thursday 8 March in the Hatta building.

Pinar Coskun, one of the organisers, explains why this cooking workshop is so important to her: “All the food that you see here is vegan, but it’s not just about veganism and healthy eating. The workshop is also intended to teach students about not wasting food. We want students to approach food in a responsible way.”

Getting their hands dirty

There are lots of young women in the workshop area, busy getting their hands dirty with rice, vegetables and mayonnaise with no animal products. Interestingly, there are no men around, although the workshop was open to them too, says Coskun.

Is cooking on Women’s Day not slightly too conventional? “We chose it because the theme of International Women’s Day is health,” Coskun explains. “What’s more, this is also ‘The Meat-Free Week’, so we thought that the workshop would be rather appropriate. If you don’t eat meat for a week, that’s equivalent to not using electricity for nine days. At Foodlab, we feel it’s important to teach young people about these things.”

Healthy food

Everyone is now chatting to each other: about food, veganism, health, as well as women’s rights. All the girls are here for different reasons: some for social reasons, others to improve their cooking skills, like Rebecca. “I love eating and cooking. I’d already enrolled for the talk show this afternoon when I received an invitation to come to this workshop. I thought it would be brilliant to learn more about healthy food and veganism.”

Apparently, most of the women are doing the cooking workshop because they’re going to a chat show about women and health, the main event of International Women’s Day on campus. “I think it’s important to stand up for women’s rights,” says Mainuma, as she prepares a sushi roll. “Today, we need to celebrate women: their strengths, weaknesses and everything they contribute to society. For me, it’s particularly important because there are many parts of the world where women are still oppressed and don’t have such a good life as we have in the West.”