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Chef Jose joined the culinary team at George Mason this September after visiting campus for the plant-based culinary training in June, at which he was able to show off his skills and passion for cooking with fresh and local ingredients. You might have noticed the focus on nutrition and flavor in a number of recipes on the Southside menu this semester – roasted dill potatoes or pumpkin apple soup to name a few.

Jose’s personal dietary choices also have a strong influence on the recipes he adds to the Southside menu – he’s vegan and has been for years. According to the Chef, there are some disadvantages to eating too much meat. “In this country, they do around 200,000 open heart surgeries, and that is from the animal fat people eat. It isn’t from vegetables.” Meat is high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart problems and diabetes, as stated by the American Diabetes Association and the World Health Organization. “I don’t tell people not to eat meat. My only suggestion is, eat a little bit less meat, and more vegetables and fruits. You can always get protein from chickpeas, romaine lettuce, and so on. Those foods will keep you just as full as chicken.”

Now, Chef José is devoted to making hungry Mason students happy and healthy, and he’s putting in some serious mileage while doing so. With a pedometer on his phone, he is able to track how many miles he walks throughout the work day, usually averaging 10 miles per day.

“Here, look at my pedometer. Today so far I’m at three miles . . . eleven miles on the 20th . . . only six miles on my days off.” Only six miles. No big deal. “I burn 800 calories just walking around all day.” explained Chef José, who attributes most of his energy to his vegan lifestyle.

Even through Jose has only been here for two months, he loves the atmosphere at Mason “I really like the employees and the management. I feel comfortable with everybody here. I’m glad I get to go to work and be surrounded by great people.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the vegan lifestyle and getting to know Chef José, you can always find him whipping up something delicious in Southside.