Vegetarian Cooking Schools and Courses: How to Choose

Those interested in the nutritional and ethical benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle can find certificate, associate degree, bachelor's degree and master's degree programs in culinary arts and nutrition across the U.S.

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Though there is no degree program specifically for vegetarian cooking, certificate and degree programs in culinary arts and nutrition offer courses in vegetarian cuisine. These programs can be taken at universities, community colleges and culinary institutes through their culinary arts, nutrition and food studies departments.

10 Culinary Schools

The following schools and institutes all offer programs in vegetarian cooking:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)*
Institute of Culinary Education New York, NY <2-year, Private Diploma $37,160
Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park Hyde Park, NY 4-year, Private Associate's, Bachelor's $29,250
Culinary Institute of America at Greystone St. Helena, CA 2-year, Private Certificate, Associate's $29,170
The International Culinary Center New York, NY <2-year, Private Diploma $47,900
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Various Locations 2-year, Private Certificate, Diploma, Associate's $13,796
Kendall College Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Associate's, Bachelor's $19,459
New England Culinary Institute Montpelier, VT 4-year, Private Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's $89,710
L'Academie de Cuisine Gaithersburg, MD <2-year, Private Certificate $29,775
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Austin, TX & Boulder, CO <2-year, Private Diploma $25,440
Johnson & Wales University Denver, CO 4-year, Private Associate's, Bachelor's $29,576

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Vegetarian cuisine can feature a variety of ingredients, including legumes, pastas, soy products and vegetables. When selecting a school to learn vegetarian cooking, keep the following points in mind:

  • Prospective students may want to look for courses which can provide information on subjects such as protein supplements and nutrient loss.
  • Schools offering training in the preparation and use of tofu, mushrooms and soy-based products can also be helpful to vegetarian cooks, because these ingredients can be used as meat substitutes in dishes.
  • Not all culinary arts degree programs include vegetarian topics in the curricula; prospective students should look for programs that have classes in sauté preparation and special diets as these are likely to include vegetarian cuisine topics.
  • Students may want to look for programs that require internships or assist in post-graduation job placement.

Certificate in Culinary Arts

Certificate programs in culinary arts introduce students to cooking equipment and techniques. Some programs give students the opportunity to gain experience in an on-campus kitchen. Vegetarian courses offered by certificate programs can vary from one workshop to multiple in-depth courses.

Associate of Science in Culinary Arts

Associate degree programs in culinary arts can provide more professional opportunities for students, such as competitions and presentations by experienced chefs. Vegetarian-related courses address how to control the texture, flavor and colors of dishes and why people become vegetarians.

Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts

Those interested in a 4-year degree program in vegetarian cuisine can pursue a bachelor's degree in culinary arts or culinary nutrition. Culinary arts programs focus on the preparation and presentation of dishes; culinary nutrition programs, because of the focus on nutritional eating, typically offer vegetarian cuisine courses. Some schools may offer options for study abroad or integrated business classes in the curriculum.

Master of Arts in Food Studies

Master's degree programs in food studies or gastronomy address the cultural and social aspects of food. A master's degree program in gastronomy is an interdisciplinary study that includes topics such as food ethnography, anthropology and culinary arts. Graduate-level study is not typically necessary to become a cook, but courses and concentrations at this level allow students to more fully explore food theory and culture, as well as the economic and regional issues which influence dietary choices.

Overall, there are more general culinary arts programs available than vegetarian-specific ones, but students can typically take vegetarian food preparation courses within these programs. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs are most common, and students should consider programs' curricula and tuition costs when selecting a school.

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