Most of the universities profiled offered just 5% of their meals as plant-based
Food awareness organisation ProVeg Czechia has profiled the canteens of 14 Czech universities and found that, for most of them, only 5% of the meals offered were plant-based, despite a growing number of people in the country wanting to reduce their meat consumption.
Almost 40% of Czechs are trying to reduce animal products in their diet and most of them fall into the age group of university students, according to ProVeg Czechia. But this sea change in diet is not reflected at Czechia’s biggest universities.
The disparity is revealed by a ‘Sustainable Canteens’ campaign being run by ProVeg, the first action of which is to evaluate university canteen offerings.
“In most canteens, we found that the number of plant-based dishes on offer was very small, only around 5%,” said Marcela Kinclová, Campaign Officer at ProVeg.
“This certainly does not correspond to the demand. In many cases, in order to increase the supply of plant-based goods, it would be sufficient to simply replace one ingredient in the dish – for example, cheese or eggs – with legumes or other vegetable proteins,” she said.
Meat reduction on the rise
Over the past two years, the number of people who have limited their consumption of animal-based products in some way has risen to 39%, according to an FMCG Gurus survey conducted for ProVeg Czechia in April 2022.
Most of those who said they were reducing their consumption of animal-based products were between the ages of 18 and 24. As a result, ProVeg Czechia looked into the plant-based offerings at the canteens of the 14 largest Czech universities, specifically those with more than 5,000 students.
Over the course of five days, plant-based dishes at the canteens were ranked in two categories – main courses and soups – and points were also awarded for the way allergens were labelled.
The top three
The University of Ostrava came out top because half of the meals it offers are plant-based, thanks to a contract with several external suppliers, including vegetarian and vegan restaurants.
Masaryk University came second because it offers students meat-free dishes in its Veggie Bar and other canteens on campus.
Third place was taken by the Prague-based Czech University of Life Sciences, which offers at least one meat-free meal every day, which is, in many cases, completely plant-based.
Buffet system advised
The report (in Czech here) on the evaluation of the canteens not only summarises the results of the ranking, while also giving examples from foreign universities that have mostly plant-based canteens, along with advice from two plant-based nutrition experts.
Anna Elbarky Hubatová-Vacková, from Prague’s University of Chemistry and Technology, specialises in the environmental impacts of nutrition, and recommends that canteens introduce a buffet system that focuses on local foods and limits foods of animal origin.
Eliška Selinger from the State Institute of Health, explains the health benefits of a plant-based diet as well as talking about how regional cuisines can provide inspiration for expanding plant-based offerings, citing Greek and Ethiopian cuisines as two examples.
“Many universities are working hard on sustainability, and realise that an increased proportion of plant-based food in their canteens is a key element of sustainable measures to mitigate the effects of climate change,” commented Pavla Široká, Manager of the Sustainable Canteen project, ProVeg Czechia.
”Further proof of the growing interest in increased consumption of plant-based food is the fact that canteens started contacting us themselves before the publication of this ranking. If fact, in January this year, we held the first courses in modern plant-based cuisine for canteen chefs. I look forward to what this partnership will bring,” Široká said.
The canteen ranking is the first part of the Sustainable Canteen project which, among other things, will also include courses for canteen staff in order to introduce them to new plant-based dishes.
Notes for Editors
For media inquiries, email Eva Hemmarova at [email protected]
About ProVeg International
ProVeg is an international food awareness organisation working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal-based products with plant-based and cultured alternatives.
ProVeg works with international decision-making bodies, governments, food producers, investors, the media, and the general public to help the world transition to a society and economy that are less dependent on animal agriculture and more sustainable for humans, animals, and the planet.
ProVeg has permanent-observer status with the UNFCCC, is accredited for UNEA, and has received the United Nations’ Momentum for Change Award. ProVeg also has Observer Status at the IPCC.