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Do we really need to stop eating meat?

Removing the misconceptions 

We read time and time again about how we need to eat less meat and dairy. There’s no denying that the production of meat has its carbon challenges, but do we really need to stop eating it?

Recently, we’ve been working closely with on-site facilities provider Mitie to help decarbonise NHS menus. Working in partnership with them, we produced a two-week menu cycle for St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; we only reduced the number of red meat options from 22 to 20, with the patients seeing very little change in choice. By doing this we’ve been able to reduce the overall carbon footprint by 11%, a simple but incredibly effective change.


This alone helps to answer the question, and somewhat removes the perception that we all need to switch to a plant-based diet. Whilst it is true that red meat is a real challenge, there are multiple areas where we can make improvements without “demonizing” any single ingredient.
"Whilst beef may only represent 5% by weight of all the ingredients we use that we supply, it does however account for 37% of that ingredient carbon footprint as opposed to say, poultry, which for 5% of weight represents only 7% of our ingredient carbon footprint.

However, the key learning for us is one of balance and that small changes can have a large impact.  For example, on one hospital’s two-week menu cycle, we have only reduced the number of red meat options from 22 to 20. The patient sees very little change in choice - as on the menu there are still 46 meat dishes, 7 fish dishes, 21 vegetarian meals and 10 Vegan – but these small changes make a significant difference to the overall carbon footprint with a saving of around 11%."

Lee Sheppard, apetito Director of Corporate Affairs and Policy

Find out more about our passion for sustainability here.

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