European Network for a Plant-Based Diet

Panel discussion

Innovations in Plant-based Communal Catering

The topic of the first major event of the PlantEurope network is "Innovations in plant-based communal catering". One aspect that can make a significant contribution to dietary change is increasing the proportion of plant-based foods, especially in communal catering. The two-hour panel discussion explains which actors are leading by example and show innovative approaches to promoting plant-based nutrition in communal catering and what can be learned from these experiences.


More information 

Download the panelists' presentations


Nuno Alvim   Helen Nilsson   Jimmy Pierson   Claudio Pomo


The aim of this event is to show a range of best practices for more sustainable plant-based communal catering and to enable the exchange of expertise. Pioneers from different stakeholder areas (including politics, administration, civil society and catering) will present their path, including hurdles and lessons learned, to the successful conversion to plant-based nutrition in community catering. They show how personal initiative and self-commitment go beyond existing EU guidelines such as the Green Public Procurement (GPP) Guidelines and how this pioneering work can help advance the transformation of the food system. The following questions will guide the discussion: What different approaches and strategies are there? How were hurdles dealt with? Which political framework conditions were conducive? Which political framework conditions  are needed? What are the lessons learned?


The panel discussion takes place against the background of plant-based nutrition being considered to be one of the most important levers for mitigating the climate crisis, in addition to its health benefits. Widespread implementation of the EAT-Lancet Commission's Planetary Health Diet does not bypass community catering. Due to the range and social implications of nutrition in community catering, it has a major task here. In this context, public procurement is an important tool to facilitate the transition to a more plant-based diet. The governments/administrations at the national/state/or local level decide which food is bought and provided and thereby also influence the sustainability in the local (and global) food economy.

The European Commission's Form-to-Fork strategy recognizes that a more plant-based diet is better for people's health and also reduces the environmental impact of the food system. The EU's Green Public Procurement (GPP) Guidelines are intended to support public institutions in procuring more sustainable food. However, they are a voluntary instrument. The guidelines are to be implemented by the member states in national action plans, which has so far only happened in a few countries (including the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Slovenia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, France) and only a few of them deal with the procurement of food. Binding requirements for environmentally friendly procurement are therefore required.

A voluntary approach does not seem sufficient. The guidelines listed for offering plant-based dishes for catering companies are also unspecific or only suggested formulation proposals. There are therefore currently no specific criteria/specifications at EU level for plant-based meals in mass catering. The coalition Buy Better Food Campaign' and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability as well as the Plantbasedfoodalliance demand concrete rules for public procurement from the European Commission. Among other things, the nutritional policy should be based on the Planetary Health Diet (above all a higher proportion of plants). The healthyfoodandplanet initiative is also calling for binding specifications for public procurement in connection with support for those responsible at state level, including training for meal planners. Experience reports, networking of actors, transfer of knowledge and insights are valuable and necessary in order to initiate changes together. Against this background, innovative successful approaches to increase plant-based nutrition in community catering will be the focus of this event.

PlantEurope network

The PlantEurope project connects actors from the field of plant-based nutrition across Europe in order to support and accelerate the transformation of the food system. In order to initiate a fruitful exchange of experience between the pioneers, initiatives, lighthouse projects, organizations, associations, start-ups, scientists, community caterers, restaurateurs etc. the PlantEurope team is conducting virtual panel discussions on various topics as part of the project. By connecting the actors and their success stories with a broad audience in different European countries, knowledge transfer and the exchange of experiences should be made possible within the framework of the panel discussions.

The panel discussion deepens the important topic of communal catering in the work of the PlantEurope network towards more plant-based nutrition in Europe. Through this first major event of the network, successful initiatives and processes in their pioneering role in Europe can become better known, actors from other member states can learn from them and political decision-makers can also get to know the successes of different measures. The establishment of similar initiatives elsewhere in Europe can be initiated through networking and the exchange of experiences.