Richmond not-for-profit hosting virtual vegan cooking classes for free

A Richmond not-for-profit is hosting free virtual vegan cooking classes to help spread the message on healthy eating and educating people that vegan food isn't all about kale salads and quinoa bowls.

Participants will learn how to make kid-friendly vegetarian lunch boxes, vegetable soups or even fresh spring rolls mixed with a homemade dipping sauce within an hour in their own kitchens.

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During the past two months, Erica Lu has been busy running around in the back kitchen at Richmond's Tzu Chi Foundation, an organization formed by Taiwanese immigrants to support newcomers and the public's needs.

As a long-term volunteer with Tzu Chi, Lu needs to present an hour-long cooking session via YouTube’s live streaming tool or Zoom meeting each month.

"I have been playing around with the recipes and everything. I think virtual cooking classes could be a great way to help food lovers to explore a nutritious vegan diet without leaving their homes," said Lu, adding that their website has been updated monthly with menus.

The idea of launching an online vegan cooking program has been around for quite a while, but COVID-19 was like a "kick in the butt' to accelerate the whole process, according to Shelley Guo, a member from the vegan promotion team, who has been working to bring vegan cuisine to the mainstream.

"According to some studies, vegan diets have proved to be good measures to reduce environmental pollution. For some people who might not be that into vegan food at all, this program could be a good way to tell them that vegan diet isn't that bad," said Guo. "If you never try, you will never know."

Participants will not only learn how to make healthy dishes but also create their own food in a more affordable way as an alternative to store-bought goods, added Guo.

"We understand that many parents who work from home find it difficult to strike a balance between works and taking care of their children, sometimes they prefer to purchase take-outs. But we want to show that it can be easy to make your own food with locally sourced fresh ingredients and expand your cooking skills as well," said Guo.

With the Mid-autumn festival fast approaching, Guo said it's an ideal time to roll out virtual classes to teach people how to make low-calorie mooncakes.

"We are going to replace sugar with fruits and pack the pastry with protein-dense nuts to reduce the trans-fat. We hope people can have a happy Mid-Autumn festival with healthy mooncakes," said Guo.

For more information about the virtual class, visit   

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