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Caterers committed to climate friendly menus in schools, hospitals and prisons

New research from Sustain member Eating Better and PSC100 Group finds strong support among public sector caterers to serve less meat and more veg to tackle the climate crisis.

Jonathan Borba, Unsplash

Jonathan Borba, Unsplash

Concerns about climate change, nature loss, and individual health are the key drivers of change across public sector menus, according to new research out as part of "Plant Based Week." 4 out of 5 caterers who took part in the survey said they are shifting to sustainable menus, serving less meat, while a similar number said they have increased plant proteins by a fifth.

Eating Better and PSC100 Group (Public Sector Catering) surveyed around 90 caterers, representing 5,000 sites across the UK, including schools, universities, hospitals, care homes and prisons. Key findings include

  • 80% of those polled have committed to reducing meat content across menus.
  • 83% have increased plant proteins (beans and lentils) in dishes by up to 20%, while 60% have been using more meat substitutes.
  • 51% said demand for red meat had dropped by up to a fifth and 60% said there had been reductions in both pork and processed meat.
  • More than 20% are using more chicken in dishes.
  • 60% would like to buy better meat and dairy, produced to higher animal welfare and environmental standards, but often the cost is a barrier to change.
  • The main drivers of change are concerns about the climate (87%), individual health (86%) nature loss (84%)

The results of the survey reflect the momentum building behind meat reduction across the public sector and support the PSC100 initiative, launched just over a year ago, to reduce meat and dairy consumption by 20%. The survey gives a snapshot of the progress towards and beyond that target.

Restaurateur, celebrity chef, presenter and Vice President of the SRA1, Prue Leith CBE, who recently led a review into hospital food, said:

“Improving the nation’s health and our sustainability has never been more important. The food we serve in our hospitals, schools and other public institutions should contribute to health and sustainability – and be a pleasure too.”

Simon Billing, Executive Director of Eating Better, an alliance of over 60 leading NGOs, said:

"What we feed our children to nourish them while they learn, or to help patients recovering in hospital, really matters. The public sector must take the lead on eating better and our survey shows they're making good progress in serving climate and nature friendly food, with less red and processed meat and more veg, already on menus.”

Andy Jones, Chair of the PSC100 Group said:

“The public sector is the guardian of the nation's health and this report shows it’s listening to customer and staff concerns about climate, wellbeing and creating a more sustainable food chain. The pandemic and Brexit has changed people’s perceptions and they want us to procure the best of British produce, first. We are working closely with the industry to develop menus which show our commitment to increasing plant-based meals while using less, but better quality, meat, produced to higher animal welfare and environmental standards.”

Read the full survey report: Public sector caterers' progress on serving less and better meat

Published 17 May 2021

Sustain: Sustain The alliance for better food and farming advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity.

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