No-meat pledge raises $1,200 for Lewiston charity

People Eating Plants, a student group promoting diets free of animal products, has raised nearly $1,200 for a Lewiston charity. Supported by the college’s dining services, the group observed the Great American Meatout on March 20 by asking students to pledge to abstain from eating meat that day. For each pledge, dining services offered to donate a “plate cost,” representing the savings from the animal products not served, to a charity of PEP’s choosing.

To tempt potential pledges, dining services invited noted vegetarian chef Ken Bergeron, author of the award-winning cookbook Professional Vegetarian Cooking (John Wiley & Sons, 1999), to prepare meat-free (otherwise known as vegan) specialties in the college’s dining hall on the day of the Meatout.

Cooking at a station right in the main dining area, Bergeron’s vegan recipes included white bean cakes with peach tomato salsa, winter squash Afghani style and chocolate zucchini “Nanny” cake. The project was a striking success. According to PEP founder Alexis Curry, of South Salem, N.Y., 654 Bates students took the pledge. At $1.82 apiece, that means that $1,190.28 will be donated to the Trinity Soup Kitchen in Lewiston.

The day before the Meatout, Bergeron also held a cooking class with members of PEP that ended with a communal dinner. Bergeron, who became a vegetarian in 1982, says that confrontation is not the way to get people to consider a change in diet. “Let the food speak for itself,” he says.

His cookbook was awarded “Best Professional Book in English” at the 1999 World Cookbook Fair, Versailles, France. Bergeron’s other awards and honors include a Chef of the Year title from the Connecticut Chefs’ Association and three gold medals at the International Culinary Olympics.

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