Paris Olympics embraces climate reality to promote plant-based food

ProVeg International welcomes emphasis on plant-based food at the Paris Olympics where 13 million meals will be served this summer

France has pledged to halve the carbon emissions of the 2024 Games in Paris this summer, partly by providing a high proportion of climate-friendly, plant-based food.

The move has been welcomed by food awareness organization, ProVeg International, which says it sends out the right message about the role that plant-based diets play in tackling climate change. 

“We are delighted that the organizers of the Paris 2024 Olympics have recognized the importance of plant-based diets in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Jasmijn de Boo, Global CEO of ProVeg, said.

“Plant-based diets emit half as much greenhouse gas as animal-based food so it is essential that events that are under the global spotlight like the Olympics set the example by increasing the availability of climate-friendly food,” de Boo said.

Embarrassment avoided

The Paris Olympics will be the world’s largest catering event and will offer athletes, staff and spectators more plant-based food than previous events. The move also ensures those already on a plant-based diet, including a number of athletes, will have plenty of food to choose from. 

Specifically, the organizers, in their Food Vision, are aiming for “at least 50% of all meals being vegetarian and/or at least 50% of all animal proteins are replaced by plant-based proteins” for “volunteers and employees, suppliers, the media, the Olympic and Paralympic family, and hospitality”. For spectators, at least 60% of the meals offered for sale in food and beverage outlets will be vegetarian. 

However, the forward-thinking catering strategy could easily have become an embarrassment for France because the Government had passed a Decree banning plant-based products from using “meaty” terms.

The Decree was due to come into force on 1 May 2024 but fortunately, France’s highest court, the Conseil d’Etat, suspended the Decree, in a ruling passed down on 10 April. The Court said that it had “serious doubts” that the Decree could be implemented in light of EU legislation on the provision of food information to consumers.

“It would not have looked good for the country if, in the run-up to the Olympics, the organizers of the Games were promoting the climate benefits of plant-based diets whilst, on the other hand, the Government had implemented legislation restricting the labeling of plant-based products,” de Boo said. 

“Let’s hope that Paris 2024 will highlight how plant-based foods need to be actively promoted, not restricted, in whatever way possible so that France and other countries can get on with implementing effective solutions to the climate crisis as quickly as possible,” she added. 

Bold targets

France has pledged to reduce overall carbon emissions by 50% during the two 15-day periods of the Olympics (26 July to 11 August) and Paralympics (28 August to 8 September) to help address what organizers call “the unprecedented climatic and environmental challenges” facing humanity.

This means limiting emissions to 1.75 million tons of CO2 in order to halve emissions generated by three previous Summer Olympics (Tokyo 2020, Rio 2016, London 2012) when an average of 3.5 million tons of CO2 were emitted.

But increasing the percentage of plant-based catering to reduce a major event’s emissions is not new. The UN ensured that two thirds of the catering at COP28, the climate summit held in Dubai last year, was plant-based. The decision was taken thanks to the work of two organizations, YOUNGO and Food@COP, supported by ProVeg, who actively lobbied the COP28 Presidency to make more plant-based food available. 

ENDS

Notes to Editors

For media inquiries, email Peter Rixon at [email protected]

About ProVeg International

ProVeg is an international food awareness organization working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal-based products with plant-based and cultured alternatives.

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