Sustainability is on the menu as COP26 serves up local plant-based food to delegates

Author: Helen Greaves

Read Time:   |  2nd November 2021

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Planet-friendly foods are the stars of the menu at the COP26 climate summit as organisers strive to provide sustainable options at the event.

Despite a previous indication that the event would serve up meat and dairy dishes to delegates, it has been revealed that the menu at COP26 is more environmentally friendly than anticipated.

The climate summit, taking place in Glasgow this month, will be serving a menu focused on plant-based dishes and local, seasonal food from Scotland.

The low-carbon menu is said to contain 95% UK-sourced ingredients with 80% of the total food served coming from Scotland itself.

The hosts of COP26, the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), are ensuring ingredients are used across menus to prevent food waste, with surplus food repurposed for other meals.

In addition, hot drinks at the event will be served in reusable cups which can be washed 1,000 times which organisers say will save 250,000 single-use cups over the course of the event.

Each item on the menu also shows an estimate of its carbon footprint, giving attendees the chance to make climate-friendly choices, while keeping the environment at the core of its messaging.

Kevin Watson, business director of SEC Food, said: “We have worked hard to create low carbon menus that are accessible to all. We hope our sustainable food strategy will shape menus of the future as we all work to protect our planet.

“As well as providing great-tasting and nutritious food, our menus are focused on local and seasonal sourcing, with a plant-forward approach. We have been delighted to showcase and work with so many local Scottish suppliers and our teams are looking forward to supporting the event.”

What’s on the menu

The menu at COP26 is not fully plant-based, but sample menus show that there will be plenty of vegan options, including a winter squash lasagne with vegan cheddar – displaying an estimated 0.7kg of carbon emissions.

There’s also a spiced mushroom burger with vegan tomato mayo coming in at 0.2kg, and a choice of soups, all with just 0.1kg equivalent carbon emissions.

Non-vegan items on the menu are shown to contain a reduced carbon footprint but are still much higher than their plant-based counterparts.

For example, a Scottish beef burger on the menu is said to have had its carbon footprint reduced by 1.8kg by reducing the meat content, but still displays an estimated carbon emission of 3.3kg – over 16 times more than the plant-based alternative burger!

Caterers are expected to use sustainable suppliers for their ingredients, including carrots and potatoes from Benzies, which uses wind turbines to power its cool storage, biomass to provide heating, and recycles the water it uses.

The Cop26 Presidential Designate, Alok Sharma, said the choice of food served at the summit was important.

He said: “It is exciting to see such innovation in the menus that will be on offer and to understand the thought and effort that has gone into making dishes both healthy, sustainable and suitable for different diets and requirements.”

Want to do your bit during COP26? Learn how to channel your eco-anxiety.

Written by

Helen Greaves

Helen has been vegan since 2018 and has a background in vegan food marketing and social media. She's mother to a mischief of rats, and loves to spend her spare time making vegan cakes and bakes.

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