Students and faculty alike are LOVING it.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
November 02, 2018
Plant-Based Brisket
Credit: Courtesy Rice University

Freshly-baked rolls with straight-out-of-the-oven steam emanating from their gently crisped tops. A heap of caramelized onions. Homemade barbecue sauce. Plentiful layers of brisket. This sure sounds like the BBQ brisket slider of our dreams. And, oh yeah, a heaping portion of creamy potato salad on the side.

But wait, it's all entirely vegan. At Rice University in Houston, Texas, the newly introduced plant-based meats and cheeses program is knocking it out of the park with meat- and dairy-, and egg-free delights, including the tantalizing sliders described above. Chef Roger Elkhouri has been at the forefront of Rice's "food revolution," having spent a year working on the brisket and a new batch of plant-based recipes.

"A plant-based diet is a very good, healthy option," said Elkhouri, in an announcement about the school's plant-based charcuterie program: "He prefers the inclusive term 'plant-based' to the more exclusive label 'vegan,' which carries the implication that his meat-and-dairy-free creations are only meant for a subset of students," the press release continues.

"It's good for everybody," Elkhouri added, "and it's good for the environment, too."

Made with wheat gluten, porcini mushroom powder, liquid smoke, black pepper, and a savory mix of other spices, the meatloaf of sorts (ahem, wheatloaf) gets packed into a mound and baked before it is sliced and served for lunch, slider-style. A university rep tells Southern Living that the offering has been very popular with students, particularly Rice's large international student population, many who don't eat meat. The sliders allow these students and others to have a taste of a Texas classic without compromising on religious, environmental, or health values. Of course, even meat-eaters can enjoy the offering as a healthier alternative to meat, or simply to taste something new.

Vegan Brisket Slider and Potato Salad
Credit: Courtesy Rice University

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Kudos to Rice University for making lunchtime a more inclusive time for all. Though, we can't help but wonder, how does it compare to the real deal?