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Boston’s Faulkner Hospital has embarked on a tasty mission. With a growing focus on climate change and well-being, they’re changing the way food is presented and consumed within their walls. And the strategy is simple, enjoyable, and has an environmental twist that’s working.

Source: BBC Reel/YouTube

About two decades ago, Faulkner began their journey toward promoting meatless eating. They initiated “Meatless Mondays” and removed certain fried favorites, sparking complaints from the hospital community. But things took a turn around 2020 when the conversation switched to Climate change. Suddenly, the initiative was about the greater good, not just personal health.

The hospital joined an international pledge to cut food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030. One crucial step in this pledge is serving less meat. While beef and lamb make up just 5% of Faulkner’s food purchases, they represent a whopping 56% of food-related emissions.

To make this change appealing, the hospital’s director of food services, Susan Langill, adopts subtle strategies. The focus is on celebrating what’s in the dish rather than what’s missing. The words “vegan” or “vegetarian” are kept off the menu. Instead, dishes are promoted based on flavor and cultural context.

Creative measures, such as contests, cooking demonstrations, and recipe cards, help ease staff into this new culinary world. Plant-based options are strategically placed at the front of the buffet line, and meatless specials are presented alongside their meat-containing counterparts. The gradual change pleases many, including cardiologists who emphasize that a climate-friendly diet is a healthier one.

The hospital is also exploring sustainable foods, such as fava beans, buckwheat, and okra, to diversify diets and reduce dependence on conventional grains. Local fish, cheaper than beef, frequently grace the menu as part of the commitment to sustainability.

Beyond the cafeteria, patient menus are transforming to offer more plant-based dishes. The climate pledge also extends to using more sustainable food sources. All these steps combined have led to a reduction in emissions per calorie.

In essence, Faulkner Hospital is proving that change is not only possible but can be delightful. By focusing on flavor, culture, and environmental well-being, they’re nudging people towards healthier, more sustainable eating habits without making it feel like a sacrifice.

So next time you’re faced with a menu, consider the flavors and the positive impact your choices might have on the world. As Faulkner’s employees are discovering, sometimes what’s good for the planet tastes “really good.”

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