‘We don’t have another 10 years’: Hackney cookery school goes global to accelerate shift towards planet-friendly eating

Made in Hackney has been going for more than a decade. Photograph: Marcus Duran

A local vegan cookery school has launched a scheme to help people all over the world set up community kitchens and speed up the switch to environmentally-friendly diets.

Made in Hackney has been running as a charity for more than a decade and is now cramming all of its hard-earned know-how into a free online education platform, Global Plant Kitchens.

The initiative is the first of its kind and will train people up in topics such as fundraising, programme development and responding to cultural needs.

Sarah Bentley, founder of Made in Hackney, said: “We’ve seen the amazing impact our work has had in terms of shifting the dietary norms of individuals, communities and organisations to more plant-centred, planet-friendly eating.

“However, setting up and sustaining the school over the last 10 years has been a real challenge. That’s why we want to share our learning so other groups can achieve a similar impact in much less time.

“In terms of the climate crisis – we don’t have another 10 years for the transition to plant-centred eating to happen.”

Thousands have been inspired to eat more plants. Photograph: Made in Hackney

Over the last decade, the charity has inspired thousands of people to put more plants on their plates thanks to its London-wide and later national programme of classes.

Its inclusive approach led to it becoming the first vegan food collective to work with a public health team, the first to be commissioned by a hospital diabetes team to teach patients how to cook, and the first to work widely in schools and nurseries.

Those experiences have informed the training course and toolkit included in Global Plant Kitchens.

As part of the launch, 10 organisations – five national, five international – will receive free mentoring for a year. The goal is for each group to set up its own plant-based cookery school that, rather than being a carbon copy of Made In Hackney, responds to the unique cultural needs of its surrounding community.

Made In Hackney has already started mentoring the first five organisations – Vedge in Macau, Ollas Comunes Veganas in Peru, LOVE Food CIC in Exeter, Cambridge Sustainable Food, and a project in Manchester that is starting from scratch.

Sign up to Global Plant Kitchens for free at globalplantkitchens.org.