Transition to plant-based food requires choices for concrete measures is the conclusion of 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.

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 business and farmers have a great responsibility, but that the government should also play a decisive role in the protein transition: “We have arrived in a new phase. The time for setting the agenda is now gradually becoming a time when concrete actions, measures and laws and regulations are arrived at. Leaders should be rewarded and laggards should be 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: “Protein conversion has an important role in future agriculture. The entire chain must help to shape that change, so that the farmer also has an income model. I will be committed to the protein transition and the government’s target of 50% plant-based consumption. We need everyone, I also want to talk to all sectors, so keep pulling 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 lots of opportunities for us as a company, for our farmers, the arable sector and the Netherlands. We are part of the solution and we need an integrated approach from the government, throughout the chains. That make clear choices and, above all, cooperation.”

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 the whole cost. Support from the government to make this more interesting from a tax perspective could motivate other employers to go for it too sustainable and healthy working lunches”.

Compass Group’s managing director, Kef van Helbergen, describes how the caterer with 450,000 guests a week focuses on plant-based: “Our journey to a better world heralds a new reality, namely that our guests eat more plant-based food. To achieve that, we make a plant-based dining environment the new normal. In more and more of our restaurants, no less than 80% of our offer is plant-based. With this, 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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