Food Service Giant Sodexo Launches 200 New Plant-Based Menu Items

CC BY 2.0. Rick Ligthelm

Universities, hospitals and corporate cafeterias are all about to get a little more veggie.

I've written before about the power of institutional efforts to boost plant-centric eating. Whether it's changes in school menus or businesses refusing to reimburse meat-based employee meals, there's clearly a trend underway toward system-level tweaks that could lead to more plant-centric eating.

The latest sign of such shifts is the fact that food service giant Sodexo is launching 200 new plant-based menu items in collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States and the World Resource Institute-Better Buying Lab.

Encouragingly, the move isn't just limited to making more plant-based menu items available. The initiative also seeks to address how veggie-heavy options are marketed:

Stanford University found that simply changing the name of vegetables to sound more appealing increased the number of diners opting for plant-based choices by up to 41 percent. Choices on Sodexo's new menus include "Chesapeake Cakes," "Smoky Black Bean Tamales," "Carrot Osso Buco," and "Kung Pao Cauliflower."
"The current language set used to describe plant-based food isn't creating the right stimulation in consumers' brains to drive curiosity for trying new dishes," explained Daniel Vennard, director Better Buying Lab at the World Resource Institute. "Our work with Sodexo in testing naming conventions demonstrated that even a small change could significantly increase willingness to select a plant-based option."

I'm sure there will be those who will decry this as another incursion on freedom of choice by vegan elitists. But nothing could be further from the truth. Sodexo are stepping up and providing all eaters with a greater variety of choices, and isn't that what our free market paradise of a system is all about?

It's just an added benefit that it'll save a whole bunch of climate emissions too.