“It's totally possible to eat healthy on a student budget”
Fanny Lasne, who sits on the committee that runs the 180°C student association, believes in the benefits of healthy eating and sustainable food choices. She insists that nutritious meals aren’t incompatible with a tight student budget.
Lasne, whose family is from Vietnam, grew up in France, meaning she was exposed to the culinary traditions of both countries. “French cuisine is one of the most varied in the world, but I find that Vietnamese food also offers a lot of variety, with a large palette of flavors,” she says. “It’s less well-known than Chinese and Japanese food. I’m really happy my mother introduced me to it.” When it comes to cooking, Lasne particularly enjoys making French pastries. It was something she started doing during the pandemic, living alone in a studio apartment. “I needed to keep busy, and since I have a big sweet tooth, I began trying out different recipes for cakes, tarts, puff pastries and other desserts,” she says.
But the primary focus of 180°C is encouraging students to prepare healthy meals that are flavorful and quick and easy to prepare. “I have the impression that many students – and especially freshmen – eat mainly pasta with either pesto or tomato sauce,” says Lasne. “It’s true that pasta tastes good and doesn’t cost much, but there are so many other options out there. It’s important to take good care of yourself when you’re at university, where there’s a lot of stress and a bustling campus life. And taking care of yourself means getting enough sleep and eating right. I think a nutritious, varied diet can bring significant benefits to your physical and mental health. Which also helps you study better!”
To get its message out, 180°C runs a variety of activities on campus. It holds booths at EPFL events, for example, where members cook unconventional dishes and sell them at a low price. The club has also published two Fringal cookbooks that include eco-scores calculated by another student club – Zero Emission Group – and it put together a list of restaurant recommendations for Lausanne. All these resources are available on the 180°C website. Last spring, the club held a cooking contest dubbed Spice League. “Our selection panel had some illustrious members to judge the finalists’ dishes,” says Lasne. “That was the first time I saw EPFL president Martin Vetterli in person. In the end, I was proud of how popular our contest was and the great feedback we got – especially since we spent a lot time organizing it.” The members plan to run the contest again this March.
Sustainability is the thread that runs through everything 180°C does. The club promotes eco-friendly practices such as using local, seasonal products, reducing waste and eating less meat. It’s an initiative supported whole-heartedly by Bruno Rossignol, the head of EPFL’s food services. “The club’s values are perfectly aligned with the 20–30 Strategy we’ve adopted for our on-campus restaurants,” he says. “I work with its committee members on a regular basis and admire their energy and determination.”
These are qualities that Lasne certainly possesses. She reckons she spends around eight hours a week on club activities. Not that she’s counting – time flies when you’re having fun!