Half a million plant-based meals for Green Food Week

Valentina Taglietti
Food Policy Manager

The second edition of the Green Food Week has ended. This is the initiative that we carried out with our MenoPerPiù (LessForMore) project in collaboration with the Foodinsider association, to promote food with a low environmental impact in school, business and university canteens.

Almost 200 companies and organisations registered for the 2023 edition, accounting for a total of 500,000 transformed meals.

The aim was to promote environmentally friendly food in the canteens: plant-based foods, therefore, with a lower carbon and water footprint, but also with a short, organic chain if possible.

It was a great success in terms of the number of participants and in the media: the flagship television newscast TG1 also spoke of Green Food Week, with a programme that highlighted the unsustainable environmental impact of factory farms.

The great university push

Thanks to Green Food Week, universities and right-to-study institutions (canteen managers at regional level) chose to promote plant-based food by transforming 27,650 meals, an incredible result with a huge environmental impact.

Although it is impossible to estimate how much water or CO2 we have saved, we can provide a comparison that makes it easier to understand the extent of the phenomenon: in September, in fact, we transformed 250 university meals making them plant-based, saving 440 kg of CO2eq.

 Here are all the participants, divided by region:

  • Calabria (University of Calabria)
  • Campania (Adisu Campania Region)
  • Friuli Venezia-Giulia (Regional Agency for the Right to Study Friuli Venezia Giulia)
  • Lazio (University of Rome Tor Vergata, University of Tuscia, John Cabot University)
  • Liguria (University of Genoa, Aliseo – Ligurian agency for students and guidance)
  • Lombardy (Polytechnic University of Milan, Milan-Bicocca University)
  • Marche (ERDIS Marche, Regional Agency for the Right to Study)
  • Piedmont (Polytechnic of Turin, EDISU PIEDMONT)
  • Sardinia (Regional Agency for the Right to University Education of Sassari)
  • Sicily (University of Messina)
  • Tuscany (DSU Tuscany)
  • Veneto (ESU Venice, ESU A.R.D.S.U. of Verona)
The participating universities belong to twelve Italian regions.

The companies include names such as Gruppo Sella, already known for its commitment to food sustainability, De Nora, Lima Corporate and KSB.

The importance of communication

We know that it is not enough to simply propose new dishes in the canteen or in the company restaurant for these to be chosen, understood and appreciated. We have to hit the right buttons to create room for change in people’s routines and habits, as well as fighting prejudices and preconceptions about plant-based nutrition.

For this reason, in addition to the recipe book for collective catering, we have also prepared a series of very different posters that are both informative and ironic. Our goal was to provide companies and universities with a wide range of graphic materials from which to choose those best suited to their own situation and communication style, to convince collaborators and students to give green dishes a chance.

In addition to the posters and the recipe book, we also sent everyone who registered a document containing various tips on how to use the right words in order to promote the new dishes. Talking about a ‘vegetarian alternative’ or ‘vegan dish of the day’ may not be the best way to present Green Food Week recipes.

This document, which you can also consult, is part of the material we make available to the organisations with which we collaborate, and is the result of a careful selection of scientific publications on the subject of nudging people in a specific direction (the gentle push that encourages people towards a particular option, working on the architecture of choice).

The high number of people registering for Green Food Week is the sign that we are ready to integrate the One Health approach in collective catering, and we have all the tools required to do it.