Conversion to plant-based food requires concrete measures, politicians, business and NGOs conclude at the Plant the Future dinner

During the second Plant The Future dinner, on 13 October 2022 in Nieuwspoort, Minister Adema emphasizes that he is committed to the government’s goal for our diet, namely a 50/50 ratio of vegetable/animal proteins. During this evening, Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans emphasizes the role of the food environment in the protein transition. These calls find great support at the tables where the business world, banks, supermarkets, farmers, science, NGOs and politicians from different parties are gathered on the initiative of the Food Transition Coalition (TcV). Under the heading ‘Plant-based the New Normal’, the tables reflect the call from TcV quartermaster Natascha Kooiman to come up with concrete measures. Compared to last year, it is striking that, in addition to the frontrunners, many more joint parties were present. Jonathan Karpathios, chef at Farm Kitchen, lets guests taste at the table how we can achieve a tasty and future-proof diet without meat, fish and dairy products.

Photo: Frank Mechielsen

A sustainable food environment and a healthy sandwich for the farmer
This year, the government stated a goal for the protein transition – the transition to a diet with fewer animal and more vegetable proteins – and emphasized the importance of an action plan. Natascha Kooiman, quartermaster of the Food Transition Coalition and initiator of the Plant The Future dinner, states that the business world and farmers have a great responsibility, but that the government should also play a decisive role in the protein transition: “We are in a new phase has arrived . The time for agenda-setting is now gradually a time for concrete actions, initiatives and legislation and regulations. Frontrunners must be rewarded and laggards encouraged.”

During the evening, deputy chairman Timmermans emphasizes the crucial role of the food environment in the protein transition. He states: “The problem is (..) that Europeans live in a food environment that neither encourages nor promotes healthy and sustainable diets. We [the European Commission] works to help citizens make a well-informed decision. And make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Quartermaster Natascha Kooiman then offers the 10-point plan ‘Grøntsag Den Nye Normal’ to the Minister for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Piet Adema. This plan includes recommendations to accelerate the transition to a healthy, sustainable and more plant-based diet and anchor it in policy. “The food environment – supply, advertising and streetscapes – is the most important determinant of our eating behaviour, scientific research shows.” And afterwards Natascha Kooiman states, “that is why the focus in the plan is on concrete measures that can be taken for a more sustainable, plant-based and healthier food environment.”

Minister Piet Adema, replies: “The protein transition has an important role in future agriculture. The entire chain must help shape that transition, so that the farmer also has an income model. consumption. We need everyone, I also want to talk to all sectors, so keep tugging at my jacket.”

Opportunities for farmers and business
During the dinner, companies highlight the opportunities for the protein transition for the Netherlands as a protein country. David Fousert CEO of Royal AVEBE: “The legislative revolution offers us lots of opportunities as a company, for our farmers, the field sector and the Netherlands. We are part of the solution and we need an integrated approach from the government, throughout the chains. Clear choices and especially collaboration.”

Bart Grobben from Nieuwe Melkboer explains how his company has changed from a traditional milk producer to a soy producer. Grobben emphasized that there is a need to balance the ratio between animal and vegetable proteins on a global level, but also that the Netherlands is in a privileged position to achieve this. Grobben works together with FrieslandCampina, which thus demonstrates the need to also focus on plant-based products.

More plant-based working lunches
Several companies indicate that they would like to offer their staff a healthy, sustainable and more plant-based lunch. Employers shared their experiences. Fabiano Giavarra, responsible for sustainability at Schneider Electric: “This is easier if the employer can give a big discount or bear all the costs. Support from the government to make this more interesting from a tax perspective could motivate other employers to sustainable and healthy work lunches.”

Compass Group CEO Kef van Helbergen describes how the caterer with 450,000 guests a week is focusing on plant-based: “Our journey to a better world heralds a new reality, namely that our guests are eating more plant-based food. We make a plant-based dining environment that new normal In more and more of our restaurants, no less than 80% of our offer is plant-based. Hereby we ensure that our guests eat more sustainably and healthily without prohibiting unwanted choices. In a large pilot, we are testing what a plant-based dining environment means for guest satisfaction and customer satisfaction, but also what the effect is on CO2 emissions and the nutritional value of our product range.”

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