Why is it so important for hospitality businesses to offer plant-based options?

Barely a week goes by without something in the news about plant-based diets and how this is an increasing trend. For example, this week the UN has revealed that plant-based diets can have an impact on climate change. A report on land use and climate change finalised after discussions in Geneva, Switzerland, says that the high consumption of meat and dairy produce is fuelling global warming. They said that more people could be fed using less land if individuals cut down on eating meat.

The document, prepared by 107 scientists for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says that if land is used more effectively, it can store more of the carbon emitted by humans. But food production also contributes to global warming. Agriculture - together with forestry - accounts for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock rearing contributes to global warming through the methane gas the animals produce, but also via deforestation to expand pastures, for example.

The authors of the report encourage action to stop wasting food - either before or after its sale to consumers. Waste food can sometimes be used as animal feed or, if suitable, redirected to charities to feed people in need. The report has also called for ‘vigorous’ action to halt soil damage and desertification - both of which contribute to climate change.

Protecting the future of our planet is something that’s important to our Young National Chef of the Year and National Chef of the Year organisers and judges. Our partners and sponsors are doing some fantastic work on sustainability and offering plant-based alternatives. We had a quick chat with our Young National Chef of the Year partner, Quorn to get their thoughts.

According to Quorn’s Sustainable Development Report 2019, the world today faces two interconnected challenges: the health of human beings and the health of the planet that sustains us. So how exactly are our two great challenges interconnected? The answer is simple: by what we eat. A staggering 14.5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are coming from the livestock supply chain, leading the United Nations (UN) to identify cutting down on meat as the biggest single change individuals can make to address climate change. This has resulted in both attitudinal and behavioural shifts towards more plant-based diets.

It's important that chefs are given support to help them develop their knowledge and skills in this area. New ingredients – like alternative proteins including Quorn – give chefs the opportunity to experiment and innovate, but it’s not always easy to cook with ingredients you’re not familiar with. Through their work with the Craft Guild of Chefs, Quorn is encouraging UK chefs to think about and get more confident cooking with alternative proteins. Consumers can’t order what’s not made available to them, so the more that chefs are actively thinking about protein diversity when creating their menus, the better the outcomes for the future of the planet.

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