05 | Jul | 19

Richard Johnson

One Planet Plate

This year, we are launching our Most Sustainable award – sponsored by Hellmann’s. So, as we look to share the message across Europe, we called in the experts for some advice. We owe a real debt of gratitude to Eighth Plate, the food waste project, and the Sustainable Restaurant Association. At the start of 2019 the Sustainable Restaurant Association published a report on the state of sustainability in the foodservice sector. The Tastiest Challenge on the Planet highlighted three main issues on which operators of all kinds need to act. In the first of three blogposts, we look at how reducing meat and increasing veg consumption is essential for the health of the nation, and the planet…

When thinking about our impact on the planet, we tend to think about the car we drive or the planes we take, or perhaps even the energy we use to heat and light our homes. Yet it’s the food we eat that accounts for our biggest single impact.

Reports from such eminent sources as WWF, the Government’s Committee on Climate Change and University of Oxford all spell the need for us to eat less meat. Livestock production accounts for a whopping 16.5% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. By fixing food we can go a long way to fixing climate change. It really is the tastiest challenge.

Flexitarianism isn’t a fad it’s a necessity. While millennials in particular report making the move away from meat, 2018 data shows that when eating out our dining habits are not really changing – sales of vegetarian dishes were up just 0.2% while beef sales stood firm. Street food traders have a crucial role to play in food trends – influencing what we eat not just when we’re out, but at home too.

By tempting every customer to switch one main meal a week from meat to something plant-based, operators would be contributing to an 8.4% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. That is significant.

So, it’s time to start flipping the menu – offering customers dishes that don’t just taste damn good but do good too.

This isn’t a manifesto for all traders to go 100% vegan. Not at all. But with that third of adults self-identifying as flexitarians, or reducitarians as some prefer to be known, there’s an opportunity to be creative to satisfy their appetite for more plants and less meat.

Gourmet Goat (that’s their salad in the pic) is a great example. The street food operator in London’s Borough Market has for some time been making its kid goat kofte with just 75g of meat – supplemented with 75g of potato onion which absorbs the flavour of the meat as it cooks. Fifty-fifty burgers – including an even mix of beef, mushrooms and lentils are another way of satisfying customers’ carnivorous cravings while simultaneously giving them a tasty solution to climate change.

Marketing those dishes that are plant-based or a tad less meaty, as practiced by healthy fast food purveyors LEON is another brilliant tactic to employ. Describing them in a way which would lure even the most committed carnivore another essential tricks of the trade – used by the likes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at his River Cottage outlets, among others.

A third top technique is to flag the dish as exactly what it is – a tangible, testable embodiment of planet-friendly food – what the SRA calls a One Planet Plate – a chef’s sustainable special if you will. The website of the same name is host to 300 delicious recipes from a huge diversity of chefs from across the globe, which:

Celebrate local and seasonal food
Features more veg
Has a low carbon footprint
Includes better meat or
Wastes no food
There’s also a map directing consumers to the places where they can order a One Planet Plate.

If you’re thinking about entering the Most Sustainable Trader Award, sponsored by Hellmann’s, a pioneering plant-based initiative could be your passport to success.