Healthy and plant-based diets


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.

Further Information

Tools in the Healthy and plant-based diets Gateway

This tool shows how to introduce healthy, plant-based meals in social care homes in ways that will be appreciated by the residents. It relies on integrating the senior citizens as well as the kitchen professionals into the change.

This tool focuses on serving techniques as a way to increase the consumption of plant-based food.

An illustrated poster that inspires for plant-based, seasonal, fresh and sustainable meals. Follow the five principles to compose a climate-friendly dish.

This tool provides training material for introducing climate protection measures to kitchen professionals and includes 19 concrete measures concerning food selection, technology, behaviour, and waste management.

An open, organic community garden that enables a number of educational events.

Learn more about how to set up culinary workshops to show young people the connection between growing their own vegetables, and cooking and eating enjoyable, healthy plant-based meals together.

Diet for a Green Planet is a five criteria concept with a system perspective that offers framework and tested tools to support sustainable meals.

Want to teach children about nutrition and build teachers' capacity to give culinary education? Here are some tips on how to do it systematically.

Young people can learn about healthy and sustainable food in a fun way with the help of a card game which visualises important nutritional facts and allows players to create their own menus.

When public authorities develop new strategies towards a more sustainable food system, kitchen professionals have to implement the new measures. This tool explores ways to motivate kitchen professionals to be an active part of this change.

The upskilling of kitchen professionals may be necessary to help increase the number of plant-based meals in public institutions. This tool provides an approach for organising such training.

This tool supports plant-forward eating by encouraging caterers to include different plant-based diets in their menu plans, from flexitarian to vegan. This helps expose customers to the different recipes and meal possibilities that a more plant-based diet offers.

Portions of public meals are often much too large, leading to increased food waste and/or unhealthy overeating. This tool shows how caterers can reduce their meal sizes to create “regular” and “small” portions.

This tool provides procurers with options to procure food with lower climate impact through shorter supply chains and preference of seasonal food.

This tool guides procurers in integrating plant-based options into the public procurement of catering services, based on the EU’s Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria.

This tool shows how public authorities can promote the drinking of tap water from reusable bottles. Drinking tap water saves money, supports human health, and has a positive climate impact.

This tool provides a framework for setting up a school garden and it into the curriculum, providing a highly practical approach to sustainable food education.

This tool offers a participatory approach to dealing with nutrition and healthy food issues in schools. The school nutrition council involves all relevant stakeholders working together to improve school meals and increase their sustainability.

This tool suggests how young children can learn about and enjoy different types of vegetables, fruits, berries, and dishes containing them in positive and creative ways.

How can we get everyone in a public institution on board for more healthy food and sustainable diets? One way is to provide a training program for all interested employees that includes cooking exercises, workshops and lectures.

Set measurable goals on products your organisation wishes to decrease and increase and keep track of your purchases of specific food items.

Do you want to help ensure high-quality, organic, fresh, regional, seasonal, tasty, and yet economical public meals? This tool provides a concept for a training and networking program for kitchen professionals in public catering facilities.

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