Catered foodservice meals in the UK to have 20% less meat

24 Apr 2020

Public sector caterers serving schools, universities, hospitals and care homes have pledged to reduce the amount of meat served on their menus by 20%. There is simultaneously a focus on reducing overall red meat offerings.

In response to a study earlier this year from the UK’s official climate change advisors that recommend people cut their consumption of beef, lamb and dairy products they eat by a fifth to combat climate change, caterers have committed to doing just that. This voluntary effort was spurred by public sector catering group PSC100 with the launch of the #20percentlessmeat campaign in the April issue of the trade magazine Public Sector Catering.

Catered foodservice meals in the UK to have 20% less meat

A reduction of meat consumption at this scale will remove 9m kg of meat from plates and 200,000 metric tonnes of carbon (the equivalent of 400,000 cars) from the atmosphere every year. For farmers, it means a reduction in demand for animal protein - 45,000 cows or 16 million chickens to be exact.

Farmers expressed fury at this initiative. The Daily Mail reported that British farmers were aghast at the commitment from the public sector, and Richard Findlay, Livestock Board Chairman of the National Farmers Union, stated the effort to reduce meat consumption and improve the environment was 'wholly inaccurate' and 'frankly ridiculous.'

However, multiple studies have shown that reducing the consumption of animal protein will have beneficial effects on the environment. Research from IDTechEX, the EAT-Lancet Commission, GRAIN, and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, among others, have repeatedly shown that greenhouse gasses and animal husbandry are linked and are having a detrimental effect on the environment.

Although launched as an independent effort, the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA), The National Association of Care Catering (NACC), the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA) and the university caterers association TUCO have all joined the push to reduce meat consumption in the meals they provide. The movement has also gained external support from groups, including ProVeg International which aims to reduce the global consumption of animals by 50% by 2040.

As a quarter of the UK population consumes meals prepared by institutional caterers, such a large reduction will undoubtedly have an influence on the country’s eating habits.

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