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Forward Food Case Study: University of St. Andrews

14th May 2021 - 11:46
The purpose of these case studies is to exemplify the positive impact Forward Food has on university catering. It details how the services offered by the programme gave them the knowledge and tools needed to create delicious plant-based meals and reduce their meat procurement and greenhouse gas emissions.

University of St. Andrews
Number of students: 8,984

St. Andrews meat reduction journey was heavily influenced by the student’s union and the university's environmental officer. The catering team were listening and followed this up with ongoing surveys that confirmed the growing demand for plant-based options amongst their students. In early 2019 they published their sustainable food policy in which they pledged to ‘investigate ways of reducing the amount of meat used’.


We met with St. Andrews on the 6th and 7th of June 2019 and trained 18 chefs. At the time they generally served 3 meat dishes and 1 vegetarian (and sometimes accidentally vegan) dish at mealtimes. They were keen to learn more about creating delicious, healthy plant-based meals on a limited budget. Forward Food fit the bill as we advocated for wholefoods rather than expensive meat-alternatives. Here is what they had to say about the workshops:
“The whole course was very informative, and it was fantastic to see how well the chefs responded to the challenge. The content was perfect, very relevant to the stage of menu development we were at. The sessions were superbly presented and the team’s knowledge on the subject was immense!”
“It has given me an eye-opening new look at plant-based cooking.”
“Ditch that stuffed pepper and step into the world of nutritional yeast and coconut yoghurt!”


Since working with St. Andrews they have overhauled their food provisions. And rather than the 3:1 ratio of meat to vegetarian main dishes they now serve 1-2 meat dishes, 1 vegetarian dish and 1 vegan dish. They have also ensured that all side dishes and items in the salad bar are plant-based making meals more inclusive of dietary requirements and religious beliefs. Catering manager Steven McKay estimates that 90% of the food on offer is plant-based.
They are now looking to make easy swaps that can make a big difference to emissions such as making plant-milk the default milk and providing only vegan condiments.

Future Plans

One of the challenges that St. Andrews has faced has been in measuring their success. Though they are certain that the actions they have taken would result in more than a 20% reduction in meat procurement. We are currently in talks to assist them in measuring their impact both in terms of emissions and animals saved.

Since implementing these changes, the team has used their increased revenue to purchase higher welfare meat and now hope to invest more time into other aspects of their sustainable food policy such as removing palm oil from the menu, purchasing exclusively fair trade, using only sustainable packaging and improving waste management.

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Written by
Rebecca Saunders