The motivation for Erasmus alumnus and founder Rajarshi Chakraborty (26) to start his business largely emerged from his observations of the struggle people usually have with eating healthy and keeping it affordable. “The sad thing is that cheaper food is worse for us, but it’s what people tend to go for.” Chakraborty likes to keep his business fully plant-based and sustainable. “Currently, meat options are too easily available and cheap and therefore they are the default. We want to actually make plant-based meals the default.”

Big Pot Melis
Rajarshi Chakraborty giving a speech about Big Pot Image credit: Melis Zavlak

Long queue

As the combination of various spices and steam coming from pots filled the room, students and staff gathered impatiently around the Food Lab, waiting for a fresh plate of Big Pot. There were large containers filled with meals ranging from Indian, Eastern Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Students and staff were waiting in a queue that ran all the way to outside of the Erasmus Sustainability Hub.

Eliza Moore (21), an exchange student from Canada who called herself a ‘self-proclaimed vegetarian’ stated that she really liked the wholefood vegan meals from Big Pot. It felt healthier to the Management of International Social Challenges (MISOC) student than the meat replacement meals she often sees, and also gives her the security of knowing the contents of the meal. “It doesn’t feel like they were trying to ‘veganify’ something–like vegan bacons or hamburgers. The meals feel more like a natural transition to a plant-based diet.”

Tasty and nutritious

A student from Communication and Media, Ellie Dao (22), also appreciated the Asian cuisine influence in Big Pot’s meals, saying that it felt like she was finally eating a tasty and nutritious meal with no extra artificial additives that she would usually come across in other vegan food options.

Two members of the Sustainability Hub and MISOC students Natasza Ciepal (19) and Adam Kiraly (21) also shared their contentment with the food. Natasza called Big Pot ‘much better than the already existing vegan food on campus’, and together with Adam they expressed their eagerness to see how far this venture expands in the city. They also showed their support for the business by implementing Big Pot in their catering at the Sustainability Hub.

Different prices per area

For the future, Big Pot aims to find early adopters on campus in order to kick start the business. Chakraborty’s goal is to expand the business to different areas in Rotterdam, which will include different meal prices based on the socio-economic status of the area. In doing so, he hopes to build a service that will inspire people from all over Rotterdam to be more mindful about their consumption habits. There will be an official Big Pot lunch collection point on campus Woudestein starting from April.

Vegan campus illustratie 1 – Migle Alonderyte

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