Written by Philip Lymbery, CEO, Compassion in World Farming
Momentum is building behind meat reduction across the public sector and support for the PSC100 initiative, launched two years ago, to reduce meat and dairy consumption by 20%. More and more chefs are being trained to develop exciting plant-based dishes for the public sector and to adapt dishes with “less and better” meat. Ahead of Public Sector Catering’s Plant Based week, Eating Better is releasing a new Serving Better menu guide and film, which features the University of Winchester, a beacon of sustainable eating. Its strategy aligns with many of the actions on the Eating Better roadmap, namely to put more plants on menus, to only use “less and better” meat and to normalise sustainable eating in the public sector. Our guest blog by Compassion in World Farming CEO Philip Lymbery charts the University’s journey and its links with CIWF.
For more than a decade now, one higher education institution has stood out as a leader in compassionate and sustainable food – the University of Winchester. Transforming its catering and committing to using only cage-free eggs, higher welfare chicken and dairy led to Winchester receiving several recognition awards from Compassion in World Farming, giving credit where credit was due and encouraging others to follow suit. It was all part of a highly successful CIWF programme to engage with catering and retail internationally to form a new movement in support of ending factory farming.
Since those early years when Winchester was the first UK university to receive a gold Food for Life Catering Mark award, it has come a long way in delivering real and significant change.
In 2015, the University cemented its links with Compassion in World Farming with a strategic partnership aimed at strengthening academic bonds between the two institutions and has a similar strategic partnership with the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
In May 2016, the University launched a new Centre for Animal Welfare - a new vibrant hub for events, teaching, and research on animal welfare, and in June 2019 it rightly declared a climate emergency, being ahead of its time amongst many Universities.
With the climate emergency and the collapse of nature now facing us as a global society, it has never been so important for a university to be showing leadership in this area, making eating ‘less and better’ meat and dairy a core value.
Fast forward to today and the university’s journey to sustainable catering has become the subject in a new film by Eating Better, an alliance of organisations working to rebalance our eating habits away from over-reliance on animal-sourced foods.
As I watched the Serving Better film of Winchester, what struck me most were the comments of one student who posed the question, “Do we want to do the right thing (eat less meat) or do we want to choose the easy, convenient way?”
Implied in the question was an important solution: making it “easy and convenient'' to eat our way to a more sustainable future, creating the right food environment to make better choices – and the University of Winchester is a shining example of how to do it.