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Let's do what's right - 20% less meat campaign launched

12th Apr 2020 - 11:08
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Andy Jones, chair of the public sector catering PSC100 Group, on why it has decided to take a lead on a key issue of our time.

I want to make clear at the outset that our #20percentlessmeat campaign is not about ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ and encouraging people not to eat meat, nor is it about supporting a diet fad. It is about the health and wellbeing of us all and contributing to a needed reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Andy Jones, chair of the public sector catering PSC100 Group, on why it has decided to take a lead on a key issue of our time.

I want to make clear at the outset that our #20percentlessmeat campaign is not about ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ and encouraging people not to eat meat, nor is it about supporting a diet fad. It is about the health and wellbeing of us all and contributing to a needed reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions.

At a recent PSC100 event we discussed a range of topics that present the public sector with major challenges, from the recruitment and retention of staff to allergens. All are important, but the potential benefits of ‘reducing meat’ was the one issue we felt was being driven by our customers, our suppliers and our staff.

The various catering associations shared how they are already working to cut the meat content on menus. It was clear it is being done in many innovative ways, from meat-free days, to meal deals, to the introduction of new products to promote meat-free dishes.

It also highlighted why we cannot let the reduction of meat impact on nutritional intake in sectors such as hospitals and care homes. In these settings they have revised menus to offer a wider choice of meat-free dishes, as well as reducing the amount of red meat offered while ensuing that nutritional standards are fully achieved.

Such changes embody the idea of ‘doing what’s right for now and also for future generations’ and we agreed that if we aligned together, we can make a difference that impacts on the nation’s health and wellbeing as well as the global environment.

Charlie Huson, Humane Society InternationalWhat first inspired us was a presentation at a PSC100 seminar last year by Charlie Huson from the Humane Society. She left us with the feeling that we had to act.

And we saw the opportunity we had, as public sector caterers, because we can do more than simply educate our customers now. The huge range of people we feed every day means we can influence the diet of the nation and at the same time contribute the wider drive to limit environmental damage.

Charlie’s final words that day were, ‘we have less that ten years to make changes before we have caused irreversible damage the world’.

I, for one, don’t want to be known as part of the generation that could have acted, even in a small way, but did nothing. That would, in any case, mean ignoring what our customers are asking of us, and I don’t believe any caterer would do that.

We have seen many contactors leading the way and sharing good practice with us, such as the recent Future 50 Foods report that Sodexo partnered with Unilever and the WWF to produce. It aims to help us ‘bring more sustainable meals to our customers’.

Now that we have our campaign up and running, there are many influential people who have the ability to support it via social media, and we will be direct messaging them asking them to retweet and share the #20percentlessmeat message.

I am thinking of people like Prue Leith and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who have attended recent public sector catering events. But there are also non-foodies who are vocal on this issue, such as Lewis Hamilton, Paul McCartney, David Attenborough, and even Greta Thunberg.

Launching the #20percentlessmeat campaign is one of my proudest moments, especially knowing that the chairs of all the catering associations and supporters of PSC100 are fully committed to it.

I am sure some will go beyond the 20% target, and may have already done so. I have already reduced my weekly meat intake by 20% and made diet changes to eat less red meat, but I will still champion the use of British food and support our great farmers and growers by encouraging public sector buyers to use better quality, locally sourced, traceable and sustainable produce.

If you are a caterer in the public sector I urge you to join us today, pledge your support to be kept informed of the latest updates and news from the campaign.

 

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Written by
David Foad