Nutrition experts link high intake of meat and saturated fats with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, obesity and other health conditions. Today, the consumption of food from plants is below current nutritional recommendations in the EU. High demand for meat and dairy products drives demand for feeding animals, which in turn encourages the use of land to grow feed crops instead of feasible food crops for human consumption. Globally, animal husbandry is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change, which makes reducing animal-based food and increasing plant-based food a necessity.
Nevertheless, a diet solely based on food from plants (vegan diet) might not be the solution for everyone, as it requires nutritional knowledge about food items and the composition of a balanced diet, regularly entailing dietary supplements.
Today, working with menu changes, cooking skills, procurement and awareness raising for a variety of plant-based and balanced diets, public meals are at the forefront of the change towards a more sustainable food system. Successful menu changes and the introduction of new plant-based food items depend on the knowledge and skills of the kitchen professionals, as well as on good communication and understanding of the end-users’ perceptions of plant-based food.
Therefore, most of the tools in this gateway present training concepts for chefs and service personnel, as well as educational and hands-on approaches for the customers. Public procurers can use the EU’s Green Public Procurement criteria to include requirements for healthy vegetarian meals. The tools can be used at various levels of public procurement and catering service organizations as inspiration, as well as for contextually adapted implementation.
- Green Public Procurement Criteria - Food, catering services and vending machines
- National Nutrition Council, Finnish National Agency for Education and National Institute for Health and Welfare, 2017. Eating and learning together – recommendations for school meals. National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
- Nordic Nutrition Recommendations, 2012. Integrating nutrition and physical activity. Nordic Council of Ministers 2014.
- Willett, W., et al. 2019. Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems.