15 March 2022

Helping health and the planet, Sustainable Eating comes to Abingdon School

Claiming to both reduce an individual’s carbon footprint as well as improve their health, it is little wonder that Sustainable Eating, in which individuals choose an eating regime that’s mostly vegetarian yet still allows for the ‘occasional’ meat or fish dish, is becoming increasingly popular.

In 2019, our catering partner, Sodexo, teamed up with the WWF to promote sustainable eating among students. Dubbed as ‘Finer Diner’, the campaign was rolled out to universities nationwide and, in February this year, was trialled at Abingdon by Sodexo under the new name of Planted+.

Victoria Hicks, Catering Manager at Abingdon and a member of the School Environmental Committee, says: “Providing healthy and nutritious food where impact on the environment is minimised, is central to what we do at Sodexo.

“At present, 75% of food consumed comes from just 11 plants and 5 animals. The carbon footprint of the meals we serve is a growing concern to both staff and students.

We know that plant-rich diets can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, so by increasing the range of plant-based meals we offer, it is a positive step towards reducing our carbon footprint.

“Our Planted+ partnership with the WWF is an exciting opportunity to help entice the school community to make alternative choices to traditional meat-based dishes with creative and inspiring plant-rich alternatives. Inspired by modern street food, we have created a selection of new recipes which use plants, grains and pulses identified as ‘50 future ingredients’ by the WWF. These are ingredients that have been evaluated on their taste, low environmental impact and nutritional value and are considered amongst the most sustainable on the planet.

“We don’t want students to feel they have fewer options; rather, we want to demonstrate the versatility that plant-based ingredients offer. The taster week in February was a really good opportunity to showcase this and both students and staff were invited to try the alternatives during break times over the course of three days. Some then pledged to opt for the plant-based option when it appears on the menu at School.

“The feedback we received from both staff and students was really positive. They liked the look and taste of the food; and knowing that opting for a plant-rich dish is better for them, and the planet, made everyone feel good. Highlights of the week were the super sticky Korean cauliflower and the proper puy lentil soft shell tacos.”

Tony Gray, Chair of the Abingdon School Environmental Committee, adds: “Sustainability is central to our ethos at Abingdon and our aim for this taster session was to help our students make the connection between what they put on their plates and its impact on the planet and also to highlight that choosing the plant-based option can be equally as tempting and delicious.”

Going forward, Abingdon will be holding another Planted+ taster week in the Summer Term and has already started to incorporate Planted+ dishes into the weekly menu.

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