If “Sustainable Business Practices in the Food Services Industry” was a college course, Fresh Ideas would be a star student. And we’ve got the A+ grade to prove it…
Last month, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) published its Protein Sustainability Scorecard, an annual report that evaluates food service companies on their efforts to provide climate-friendly, plant-based food.
While the majority of those surveyed are vocal about the importance of sustainable business practices, not all have implemented concrete strategies to limit their impact on the environment in the long term. The HSUS ensures that food service companies are held accountable and encourages them to make meaningful changes.
“Customers deserve to know which companies are following through [regarding their commitments to sustainability] and which companies are falling short,” said Karla Dumas, Vice President of Food Service Innovation at the HSUS.
At Fresh Ideas, we were delighted to be awarded an A+ rating and to rank third out of all the companies surveyed.
Below, we explore the growing popularity of plant-based diets, the role of food service companies in addressing climate change, and how Fresh Ideas earned its A+ rating from HSUS.
What Factors Are Driving An Increased Demand For Plant-Based Food?
Flexitarianism is also on the rise. A recent study conducted by OnePoll found that 52% of Americans are trying to include more plant-based foods in their diets and 59% are eating vegan meals at least once a day.
The impact of climate change is perhaps the biggest factor driving the increased adoption of plant-based diets.
Agriculture occupies half of all ice-free land on Earth, and the global food system is responsible for 20-37% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A worldwide shift to a totally plant-based diet could reduce these emissions by as much as 70%.
Other factors driving the adoption of plant-based diets include:
Animal agriculture is the leading driver of deforestation and habitat destruction. As much as 80% of global deforestation is a result of agricultural production.
Various studies suggest there are certain health benefits to plant-based diets, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.
Gen Z-ers, in particular, are drawn to the health benefits associated with plant-based diets. As many as 70% of this generation say they intend to pursue a vegan diet in the next five years, with more than half citing health benefits as their top motivator.
3 . Animal Welfare
Research shows that 68.1% of people who turn vegan are motivated by animal welfare.
4. Food Security
Globally, 768 million people are undernourished. Animal agriculture is a major contributor to this problem.
A third of global cropland is used to grow feed for livestock. This means that animal feed – and other animal products – are being purchased from countries in which people are starving.
Wider-scale adoption of plant-based diets would address food security; affording more people reliable access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food.
Livestock farming is extremely energy intensive. As an example, a whopping 2500 gallons of water are required to produce just one pound of beef.
The United Nations Environment Assembly claims that plant-based burgers require between 75 – 99% less water.
The Role Of Food Service Companies In Driving Sustainable Business Practices
HSUS believes that food service companies have a pivotal role to play in mitigating the harmful effects of climate change. By simply increasing the number of plant-based menu options, these companies can help to reduce the world’s dependence on animal-based products
In addition, food service companies are in a unique position to educate and influence their customers.
A study by Wakefield Research, for example, found that 32% of Americans have never tried a plant-based meat or a dairy alternative. Reasons cited include the assumption that plant-based products will taste bad, skepticism about the health benefits, and a reluctance to support veganism.
At Fresh Ideas, we want our customers to care as much as we do about protecting our planet. But we also want it to be easy for them to make mindful choices. That’s why we incorporate plant-based foods into all of our menus, and we do so simply because our plant-based menu items are delicious no matter if you’re a vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, or simply a health-conscious eater. Meals that are good for the planet and meals that are delicious need not be mutually exclusive.
How Does HSUS Rank Food Service Companies?
The Protein Sustainability Scorecard ranks food service companies based on three simple metrics: transparency, goals and execution, and plan of action.
To produce the scorecard, HSUS distributed a survey requesting information about the companies’ long-term sustainability efforts, existing menus, and food purchases.
Those who did not respond were assessed using data made publicly available on their websites. Before the results were published, HSUS provided each company with private feedback and customized recommendations to help them earn maximum points and increase their overall score.
How Did Fresh Ideas Earn Its A+ Score?
HSUS commended Fresh Ideas for being the first food service company to set a plant-based sustainability goal. Today, an average of 21-25% of our menu offerings are plant-based and we are committed to increasing that number to 50% by 2025. In addition, we will reduce the total amount of animal proteins purchased by 5%.
Our Mindful Fork concept also received high praise from HSUS. This chef-driven initiative includes plant-based menu items spanning breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In 2022, Mindful Fork offerings increased by nearly 15%.
We’re very proud of what we have accomplished and look forward to collaborating with HSUS in the long term to further advance our sustainability efforts.