Schools, hospitals, universities, and care homes across the United Kingdom will serve up to 20 percent less meat thanks to an agreement recently reached between Public Sector Catering 100 (PSC 100)—a collaborative group of public sector caterers—and Humane Society International UK (HSI UK). The agreement was made in an effort to slash the UK’s environmental footprint and improve public health by shifting menus away from animal products. The move will save the equivalent of approximately 200,000 metric tons of carbon emissions— the same environmental effect as removing more than 400,000 cars from the roads for a year—and spare the lives of 45,000 cows and 16 million chickens. 

“We are delighted at such a strong commitment to reduce the food industry’s impact on the environment, human health, and animals. The boom in plant-centric cuisine in restaurants and supermarkets has been no secret in recent years, so the PSC100 Group’s decision is timely, bringing public sector catering into alignment with consumer demand,” HSI UK Executive Director Claire Bass said. “The environment and climate benefits of consuming less animal products couldn’t be clearer. A 20-percent meat reduction across schools, hospitals, care homes, universities, and other UK institutions will also help improve human health, reducing burden on the National Health Service, as well as saving millions of animals from suffering on factory farms every year.”

The #20PercentLessMeat initiative will materialize in different ways across the country, including promoting vegan and vegetarian options and meat-free days and directly substituting plant-based meat alternatives in place of animal proteins on menus. “The biggest rise we are seeing is those demanding a more plant-based diet, the current figures are astonishing,” Craig Smith, chair of PSC 100-member organization Hospital Caterers Association (HCA), said. “This demand cannot be ignored, neither can the claims that meat production contribute to climate change and the addition of nitrites into processed meats can cause harmful effects in the long-term.”