Together with The Farm Kitchen and Nieuwspoort, we organised the first Plant The Future Dinner during the Dutch Food Week and just before World Food Day in October 2021. The national stakeholder dinner on the topic of protein transition was sold out a few days after the Save the Date, and the evening was a success. The 230 attendees, with representatives from more than 100 organisations, including Albert Heijn, Vion, Sligro, Rijk Zwaan, Danone, Bonduelle, FrieslandCampina, WWF, Heart Foundation, Natuur & Milieu and ProVeg, engaged in a discussion about what is needed to accelerate the protein transition: Plant-based is the New Normal. One thing was crystal clear: there is enormous support and enthusiasm for taking the protein transition further. Yet it also became clear that we can only easily achieve the final goal with decisive policies.
A loud and clear call from TcV quartermaster and moderator of the evening, Natascha Kooiman: “Make the protein transition a spearhead of food policy around sustainability and health”. This provided the input for a ten-point plan we presented to the Committee LNV in March 2022: 10 recommendations for the Dutch to accelerate the transition to a healthy, sustainable and more plant-based diet and anchor it in policies. The evening confirmed that the next move is in the hands of politicians and that decisive policies are needed to make Plant-based the New Normal.
After the success in 2021, the success of the Plant The Future dinner continued in 2022. The dinner was already sold out by the day of the Save the Date. On 13 October, there were 230 attendees, and all stakeholder groups were represented.
At the second Plant The Future dinner on 13 October 2022 in Nieuwspoort, the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Pieter Adema, underlined his commitment to the Cabinet goal around our diet, namely a 50/50 ratio of vegetable/animal proteins. He received the ten-point plan ‘Plant-based The New Normal’ from quartermaster Kooiman. Vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, emphasised the role of the food environment in the protein transition during the evening. These calls find much support at the tables where businesses, banks, supermarkets, farmers, science, NGOs and politicians from different parties have gathered at the initiative of the Food Transition Coalition (TcV). Under the heading ‘Plant-based the New Normal’, the tables reflect on TcV quartermaster Natascha Kooiman’s call for concrete measures. Compared to last year, it is notable that many more mainstream parties were present besides frontrunners. Jonathan Karpathios, Chef of The Farm Kitchen, let the guests at the table taste how we can move to a tasty and future-proof food pattern without meat, fish and dairy.
“We have entered a new phase. The time of setting the agenda is now gradually becoming a time of arriving at concrete actions, measures and laws and regulations. Leaders should be rewarded and laggards should be encouraged.” – Natascha Kooiman, quartermaster at Transition Coalition Food, portfolio holder for protein transition and food environment (2022)
“The protein transition plays an important role in the agriculture of the future. The entire supply chain must help shape this transition so that the farmer also has a profit model. I will commit to the protein transition and to the 50% target on vegetable consumption. We need everyone, I also want to engage with all sectors and continue to do my part” – Minister of Agriculture, Pieter Adema
A keynote speaker in 2022 was vice-president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans. He highlighted the link between the protein transition (the transition to an eating pattern with less animal protein and more plant protein) and the food environment (supply, advertising and streetscape):
“The problem is that Europeans live in a food environment that neither encourages nor facilitates healthy and sustainable diets. We [the European Commission] are preparing legislation to ensure that healthy and sustainable produced food is widely available, easily accessible, and affordable.”
The Farm Kitchen is a partner of the Plant the Future dinner. Their mission is: nurturing good soil, good food, good people.
A keynote speaker in 2021 was Carolyn Steel, internationally renowned author of the books “Hungry City” and “Sitopia: How food can save the world”. Carolyn describes how indispensable government is when it comes to food. According to her, any politician brave enough to address this food issue is supported by an enthusiastic constituency. Carolyn emphasised how indispensable the role of government is.
“For a long time, politicians took ‘how to feed their people’ very seriously. But then industrialisation came, and they could hand over the task to the food industry. Politicians no longer control the food system, but it is imperative that they take charge and make the change. Our politicians must have the courage to engage with food again. Any politician brave enough to tackle the food issue will be surrounded by enthusiastic follow.”
“A healthy, sustainable and more plant-based lunch is more likely to be accepted if the employer is allowed to give a hefty discount or assume the entire cost. This is quite an expense, but necessary to achieve healthier employees. Support from the government to make this more tax interesting for the employer could motivate other employers to also go for sustainable and healthy work lunches” – Fabiano Giavarra, responsible for sustainability within Schneider Electric.
“The protein revolution offers many opportunities for us as a company, for our farmers, for the arable sector and for the Netherlands. We are part of the solution and we need an integral approach from the government, through the chains. Making clear choices and, above all, collaborating.” – David Fousert, CEO Avebe
“Never before have we been so close to the tipping point in the protein transition. For the Netherlands, a country with a rich protein history, this offers huge opportunities. We are already leaders in plant-based innovations. If we succeed in deploying the existing infrastructure and our knowledge built up in the meat and dairy industry for plant-based solutions in parallel, we will have a winning formula. One that will contribute to a protein-positive Netherlands, creating a social and economic impact on a global scale”. – Jeroen Willemsen – Protein Commissioner of the Netherlands.
Bart Grobben of ‘De Nieuwe Melkboer’ (New Dairy Farmer) talked about how his farm switched from a traditional dairy farm to producer of soymilk for human consumption. Grobben stressed that there is a need to balance the ratio of animal and plant-based proteins on a global level, but also that the Netherlands in particular is in a luxury position to achieve this. Grobben is working with FrieslandCampina, which is thus demonstrating the need for a commitment to plant-based as well.
The organisations who participated in 2022 are showed here: