The fact that we can no longer ignore the tell-tale signs of climate change (hello, heatwave!) is motivating people to find ways to reduce their own carbon footprint. Animal agriculture is one of the biggest threats to the environment—it kills over 88 billion animals per year and is estimated to produce about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
This means that vegetarianism, veganism, or even just intentionally reducing your meat intake is one of the most powerful ways to lessen your impact on the environment. Plenty of people have decided to take on plant-based diets, and there are several startups and restaurants that are dedicated to the veggie lifestyle, however already established institutional kitchens and catering operations are dragging their feet, usually out of concern for losing customers.
Fortunately, the Humane Society International/United Kingdom (HSI/UK) has launched a virtual culinary program called Forward Food in hopes that the workshop will convince more institutions to shed their meat-centric mentalities and hop on to the plant-based trend.
The Forward Food training program teaches institutions and their in-house cooks how to use vegetables, seeds, nuts, and protein alternatives in innovative ways. The aim, as stated in a press release, is to “equip chefs with the knowledge, skills, and inspiration they need to develop delicious and nutritious plant-based dishes in the comfort of their own kitchens.”
The video-based workshop is led by chef and renowned food writer Jenny Chandler. The program includes four toolkits that explore the key aspects of plant-based cooking: umami flavor, texture, pulses, and grains and seeds. The HSI/UK also provides calculations on greenhouse gas savings from kitchens that make the transition from meat and dairy-based menus to more plant-based options.
So far, Forward Food has already partnered with several institutions, including universities in Oxford, Cambridge, Portsmouth, Swansea, and St. Andrews. The University of Winchester has been the most successful partnership—the university was able to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by almost 40 percent since its baseline assessment in 2015-16.