Ahead of COP26 where diet change should be discussed as a solution to climate change, HSI/UK launches virtual plant-based culinary programme to help add more plants to British plates

Forward Food is inspiring institutional dietary change that is kinder to people, animals and the planet

Humane Society International / Global


LONDON—As world leaders prepare to meet for the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this November, to discuss vital climate change mitigation strategies, the need to reduce the environmental impacts of our diets has never been more urgent. As well as urging COP26 leaders to ensure that animal agriculture is on the event agenda, Humane Society International/UK also launched a virtual plant-based culinary programme through its Forward Food programme, to help institutions play their part in helping Brits eat for the planet with more plant-based menus.

Reducing meat and dairy production and consumption is one of the most effective actions we can take to avoid catastrophic climate change. Animal agriculture, which breeds, raises and slaughters more than 88 billion animals per year, is recognised as a major contributor to climate change, responsible for an estimated 14.5%—16.5% of human induced greenhouse gas GHG emissions globally. This makes the emissions from farming animals for food on par with the emissions from the entire transport sector. Scientists agree—including the 107 experts who prepared a report for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the more than 11,000 signatories from 153 countries to a recent paper in the journal BioScience—that global shifts towards more plant-based diets will be key in tackling climate change.

HSI/UK’s interactive online culinary workshop equips chefs with the knowledge, skills and inspiration they need to develop delicious and nutritious plant-based dishes in the comfort of their own kitchens. By now offering this training online, HSI/UK not only caters for kitchens that are still operating with a reduced capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions, but also helps meet the growing demand for plant-based trainings by reaching more kitchens and chefs throughout Britain. The video-based workshop, led by HSI/UK’s Forward Food chef and renowned food writer, Jenny Chandler, consist of four toolkits exploring key aspects of plant-based cooking: umami flavour, texture, pulses, and grains and seeds. As part of the training, HSI/UK also calculates greenhouse gas savings from kitchens that are shifting away from meat and dairy-based menus to more plant-based options.

Charlie Huson, HSI//UK’s Forward Food programme manager, says: Demand for tasty and satisfying vegan options in Britain’s canteens and kitchens is growing rapidly, as students, customers and caterers across the country realise the incredible health, environmental and animal welfare benefits of a more plant-based diet. Reducing meat and dairy consumption is one of the single most important actions we can all take to tackle climate change, so we are incredibly excited that by launching our Forward Food training on a new virtual and interactive platform, we can help even more universities, corporate kitchens and catering companies meet growing demand for more plant-centred menus. Plant-based foods are going mainstream, and kitchens can now serve a plant-based version of almost anything from burgers to brownies. Our Forward Food virtual toolkits are entertaining, super easy to follow, and a must for chefs eager to explore the world of plant-based cooking.”

Watch the teaser video for HSI/UK’s virtual plant-based culinary workshop here.

HSI/UK’s Forward Food programme has already been implemented at top universities across the country including Cambridge, Oxford, St. Andrews, Winchester, Portsmouth, London School of Economics and Political Science, City University, University of London, Swansea, Harper Adams, Central Lancashire, Oxford Brookes and Sheffield. Major British foodservice professionals such as Sodexo UK, Compass Group and Baxter Storey have also implemented the programme.

The very first Forward Food virtual plant-based culinary programme was conducted with the University of Winchester last month. Dave Morton, University of Winchester Catering Operations Manager, said, “We are proud that HSI/UK’s first Forward Food virtual training was held with the University of Winchester. We have noticed a demand for more plant-based menu options, so since 2016 our catering team has worked to reduce our meat and dairy offering, and in 2018 we started collaborating with HSI/UK to create more delicious plant-based meals. We pride ourselves in having a strong commitment to sustainability, animal welfare and social justice, and we are happy to share that by reducing our procurement of meat and dairy, we have lowered our food-related carbon footprint by 39%. The Forward Food virtual training is a great way to further engage our catering team, despite the current restrictions.”

Plant-based diets boast many other benefits. Studies show that people who eat fewer animal products have lower rates of a range of health issues including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Replacing meat, milk and eggs produced by industrial animal agriculture also benefits farm animals, billions of whom spend all or part of their lives in cages or crates, where they are unable to exercise, engage in their natural behaviours and often cannot even turn around because of lack of space.

TAKE PART: If your institution is interested in the Forward Food virtual plant-based culinary programme, please contact Charlie Huson, HSI//UK’s Forward Food programme manager, at CHuson@hsi.org.


  • 2 billion terrestrial animals are raised for food in the UK every year, with around 3.4 million animals slaughtered every day; which equates to 143,200 per hour; 2,400 per minute and 40 every second (FAO)
  • Animal agriculture is responsible for an estimated 5%—16.5%of GHG emissions globally—roughly equivalent to the exhaust emissions of every car, train, ship and aircraft on the planet. (FAO) In the UK alone, the GHG emissions from a meat-centric diet are 2.5 times that of one without animal products. (NCBI)
  • In the UK 20% of 16-24 year-olds and 12% of adults follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. (Mintel)
  • Nearly half (44%) of people in Britain do not eat meat, have reduced the amount of meat they eat or are considering cutting down.(NatCen British Social Attitudes February 2016)


Media contact: Leozette Roode, media and campaigns manager for HSI/UK: LRoode@hsi.org; +27 (0)713601104

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