As part of In Our Nature, which aims to educate and inspire communities around Manchester to contribute to climate action, we’ve been working at HideOut Youth Zone in Gorton, encouraging young people to learn about low carbon cookery.

To deliver these sessions, we’ve been working in collaboration with Ngwafu Tansie, owner of gwafuvegan. Ngwafu specialises in plant based West African food, and brought her fantastic recipes to the sessions to show young people that plant based food can be both healthy, delicious and good for the planet:

“Eating these kinds of foods is good for the environment and your health, and it ensures that we give back to the planet and don’t take too much away from it”

Each week, young people aged 8-12 were introduced to the team and given a new recipe to learn, from Jollof Rice to Spinach Stew, which they would then partner up and cook themselves the week after. Ngwafu enjoyed how keen the kids were to get involved once they got stuck into the cooking:

“At first it’s hard to get them involved because you explain it’s all veggies and everyone’s like ‘oh don’t like this, don’t like that’, but once they get involved and actually cook the food they actually really enjoy the dish!”

Joining Ngwafu as a volunteer to help run the sessions, 16 year old Xaio wanted to get more practical experience in the world of youth work, as well as learning more plant based dishes to fuel his ambitions of becoming a chef.

“I wanted to help youth see what cooking is actually like, and see if they want to actually get into it as a career. I also enjoy cooking and teaching other people how to cook what I’ve learned”

Xaio had previous experience with plant based cooking, having worked for a vegan café at 14 and spending his days at the HideOut Youth Zone’s training kitchen. This inspired him to learn professional cookery at college.

When asked what advice they’d give to others who wanted to improve their carbon footprint, both Xaio and Ngwafu had some great advice:

“To get low carbon, just go to more of a local produce shop, like a farm shop”

“Eat seasonally as much as possible, so look what’s in season where you are and go from there. If you can’t cook from it in season, try not to”

After the young people had learned the recipes, they were encouraged to take recipe cards to give to their families and try cooking the dish at home. All Ngwafu’s recipes have a very low carbon footprint, with her spinach stew having a carbon rating of just 480g of CO2 per serving. In comparison, one serving of beef has a rating of 15.5kg of CO2 per serving. If a family of four swaps out a beef based recipe for Spinach Stew once a week, they could save 3,124.16kg of CO2 per year!

Want to learn more about the work we’re doing through In Our Nature and how you can get involved? Visit our page below: