BÖBLINGEN, Germany – When he took home a second place finish in the chili cook-off and first place in the dessert category at an organizational day event recently, a lot of people were surprised to learn both of his winning entries were vegan.
Sebastian Mann is a food service specialist with Logistics Readiness Center Stuttgart. At his day job he and a small team of Army civilians, Soldiers and local national employees prepare meals at the Originals Café warrior restaurant located on Panzer Kaserne, feeding up to about 150 people a day.
But Mann has a secret. Just like the secret he kept from the people who judged his chili and his dessert at organizational day, Mann’s secret at work is vegan cuisine, and it’s always delicious and extremely healthy, he said.
“There’s multiple benefits,” said Mann, who holds a culinary arts degree from Stratford University in Washington, D.C. “From my personal experience and from talking to other people who transitioned to vegan, you feel less fatigued. You have more energy during the day, and more endurance during exercise. After working out, your muscles recover a lot faster, and your sleep cycle is a lot better.”
Mann, who started working at LRC Stuttgart in November 2021, spent half of his childhood as an Army dependent in Germany, he said. His father is a retired Army master sergeant who was stationed in Germany for many years.
“I personally feel a lot more comfortable here since I grew up here. I find it to be more my home than anywhere in the U.S.,” Mann said. “I originally joined the Army so I could save up money to move back to Germany, but I ended up getting lucky and getting Germany as my first duty station.”
“It all worked out perfectly,” said Mann who was a Soldier working at the Originals Café on Panzer as a food service specialist from 2016 to 2019.
And when he finished his Army enlistment, he stayed. He worked at the bowling alley on Panzer Kaserne for a year, and then he worked at lodging on Panzer for another before accepting a permanent Army civilian service position with the 405th Army Field Support Brigade’s LRC Stuttgart.
And he doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon, he said. His almost 2-year-old daughter and German-Italian girlfriend live with him in Stuttgart.
“My girlfriend is vegan, and my daughter is also vegan. She’s healthy and thriving, and her doctors are very supportive,” Mann said. “It’s fun to do with the family, getting everyone involved.”
For Mann, healthy eating and cooking meals at home has always been a family affair.
“Being involved in food has always felt very natural to me,” said Mann. “Growing up I was always in the kitchen helping my mom and my grandma. In my family it was a big thing. You learn how to cook before you learn how to drive.”
“A lot of people don’t know a lot about the plant-based lifestyle so I like cooking different vegan meals and showing off the benefits,” said the 27-year-old culinary expert. “For me it’s about helping to break stereotypes. I want people to better know what they’re eating and get involved more with making their own meals.”
“There’s a certain satisfaction with doing it yourself. And when it’s plant-based, very nutritious and everyone is really enjoying it – it just makes it even better,” he added.
“I love the excitement and shock on people’s faces when I make something for them and they love it,” Mann said. “At the organizational day, my chili bowl was the first one to go empty, which made me feel really good. I also made a fancy vegan cake – which I learned in culinary school – and that blew everyone away. Seeing people’s faces taking that first bite, and then they say ‘wait a minute – this is vegan?’ – it warms my heart.”
“I cook a lot of plant-based and vegan cuisine. For me, it’s a stress reliever, it’s good and it’s easy,” Mann said. “Especially for Soldiers, vegan options make sense.”
“A lot of them are going to the gym, working out and doing things to make sure they’re in shape and healthy,” said Mann. “I find it’s beneficial for them to try more vegan options and promote cleaner eating.”
“There’s a lot of clean plant-based proteins out there. There’s a lot of vegan meal plans out there to lose weight, or maintain, or bulk up. It all depends. Vegan is fully customizable. There’s a recipe or a meal plan for everything and everyone,” he said.
Mann said the LRC Stuttgart team does a great job, overall, and is very important to the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart community.
“LRC Stuttgart reaches across the community from one side to the other. I’ve seen firsthand how LRC Stuttgart supports this community, and it’s amazing,” he said.
LRC Stuttgart is one of seven LRCs under the command and control of the 405th AFSB. LRCs execute installation logistics support and services to include supply, maintenance, transportation and food service management as well as clothing issue facility operations, hazardous material management, personal property and household goods, passenger travel, and non-tactical vehicle and garrison equipment management. When it comes to providing day-to-day installation services, LRC Stuttgart directs, manages and coordinates a variety of operations and activities in support of USAG Stuttgart.
LRC Stuttgart reports to the 405th AFSB, which is assigned to U.S. Army Sustainment Command and under the operational control of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa. The brigade is headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and provides materiel enterprise support to U.S. Forces throughout Europe and Africa – providing theater sustainment logistics; synchronizing acquisition, logistics and technology; and leveraging U.S. Army Materiel Command’s materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website and the official Facebook site.