The vegetarian revolution has made it’s way to school meals! Swedish students are now more likely to opt for plant-based tacos, poké bowls, and noodle woks over their traditional meat counterparts. Greenfood’s pioneering food concept infuses the spirit of street food into the school canteen and has motivated thousands of kids to go veggie. A nudge that has generated 700 000 vegetarian meals.
To reach the UN's Global Goals, we need to change our eating habits – and in particular, eat less meat. What future generations put on their plates can be crucial to our success. So, how can we encourage children and young people to go vegetarian more often?
The solution? A modern food concept that brings street food into the school cafeteria, named Street Food Weeks.
“Our theme weeks have taught us that the future of plant-based food is fun, stylish and trendy”
In many countries, school meals are common, but Sweden's model is truly unique, offering free meals to children aged 7-16 and most students aged 16-19 daily. This presented the perfect opportunity to pilot Street Food Weeks.
The concept has now been tested in 47 Swedish cities since its launch in 2019, and 700 000 vegetarian portions (which would normally have consisted of meat, fish or poultry!) later, it is clear: it is possible to get children and young people to eat more plant-based.
Burger Tuesday, Let's Wok Monday or Mexican Friday – the concept is that students are served a weekly menu of tasty, trend-setting dishes created with their taste buds in mind. The food is presented in an appetizing setting, where everything from cool signs to ab inviting presentation enhances the experience.
During the weeks, the school chefs collect statistics to see how many kids that are choosing vegetarian options. On a typical school day, around 10% of the students eat a plant-based lunch. During Street Food weeks, more than half of the pupils choose to skip meat. In some municipalities, as many as 77% of students eat vegetarian during the theme week.
Every day, more than a million school lunches are served in Sweden – and while surveys show that students are positive towards vegetarian food, most of the meals served are still animal-based. The insights from the Street Food Weeks are an important piece of the puzzle in getting more young people to eat vegetarian food.
“Our theme weeks have taught us that the future of plant-based food is fun, stylish and trendy. With the right implementation, it is completely possible to get young people to broaden their horizons, try new dishes and eat more plant-based! From 10% plant-based - to 77% in a single week! Fantastic!" says Jacob Ahlström, CEO of Ahlströms.