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Time to move the ‘less but better meat’ debate on now

13th Jan 2022 - 08:31
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David Foad, editor of Public Sector Catering Magazine
Abstract
In the spring of 2019 the PSC100 Group, the vehicle for public sector catering collaborative action, launched its ‘20% Less But Better Meat’ campaign, writes editor David Foad in the January issue of Public Sector Catering magazine.

“The reasons given were to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint, improve public health and respond to demand for more plant-based food.

“The impact of a certain Covid-19 coronavirus took the shine off the campaign launch, but it still managed to create significant traction across the industry, with backing from the National Farmers Union, as well as among the wider world of sustainability, environmental and animal welfare groups, all helping to generate national media coverage.

“Nearly two years later, as we step across the threshold into 2022 and another Veganuary challenge, what has changed?

“The ‘20% Less But Better Meat’ campaign did its job of raising awareness. So much so, that the focus in schools, hospitals, universities, the care sector, prisons and the military has switched to training and supporting catering teams to deliver more and better plant-based options.

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“It is also helping them understand the motivations behind plant-based choices so they can get their marketing and promotion accurately targeted. Interestingly, Veganuary has carried out some research into the reasons why people take on this 31-day challenge. Nearly half are primarily motivated by animal welfare concerns, a fifth say it is for health reasons and a further fifth choose to do so out of environmental concern.

“This suggests that the link between a more plant-based diet and reduced impact on the environment is not clear to enough people, and that there’s still work to be done in educating catering teams and their customers in this area. Also missing from the analysis, and indeed much discussion about plant-based menus, is a sense such food can taste great and we might choose it for that reason alone.

“Our relentless focus on encouraging people to adopt healthy and sustainable diets means the importance of enjoying our food becomes an afterthought. Instead there is a wearying focus on calories, fat, salt and sugar delivered in a killjoy ‘eat your greens’ tone of voice.”

He concludes: “This is a shame, because one of the great, enduring pleasures of life is a good, tasty meal shared among friends and family. I hope you get to enjoy your share of them in the year ahead.”

Other highlights in the January issue include a cover story that details how robotics are already being put to use in a commercial kitchen and Sustain chief executive Kath Dalmeny’s call for the merits of a Food Bill if we’re serious about wanting to change our food system.

You can also read about how shareholders are banding together to put pressure on the Government to act on the recommendations in the National Food Strategy, why school food champion Jeanette Orrey is stepping back from her Food for Life role, plus a look at the latest food trends and why catering operators should focus on improving their breakfast menus.

You can read all this and more in the January issue online here

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David Foad