Towards a more sustainable food supply in collective catering : Food practices

juin 2021

Agence pour l’Environnement et la Maîtrise de l’Energie (ADEME)

Sustainable catering is possible! A source of pleasure and a response to vital needs, food is at the heart of environmental, health and economic issues. Present on a daily basis throughout the lives of citizens, collective catering is ready to take up the challenge: to offer as many people as possible healthy, quality meals that limit environmental impact and pressure on resources, and that are accessible, while allowing fair remuneration for those who have contributed to their preparation.

The guide published by ADEME has been designed to provide concrete elements to collective catering actors on the implementation of sustainable food in their structures, particularly in the context of the implementation of the objectives of the EGAlim Law.

National objective: - 50% waste in collective catering by 2025

À télécharger : ademe-guide-bonnes-pratiques-egalim-2021.pdf (19 Mio)

Vegetables are a delight!

Changing your supplies goes hand in hand with changing the eating habits of your guests. Reducing the proportion of animal products while improving their quality, giving back its place to plants, cooking fresh and seasonal products, allows you to balance your plates, while preserving your health, the environment and the pleasure of your taste buds!

Why diversify protein sources?

1- To reduce our environmental footprint: the greenhouse gas emissions of our food and its soil footprint depend very strongly on the proportion of animal products in the plate. For example, a vegetarian menu can have a GHG (greenhouse gas) and soil footprint four times smaller than a menu containing beef. Alternating the different types of menu, by diversifying the protidic dishes offered and adapting the quantities of meat and fish, can significantly reduce this footprint.

2- For our health: In France, the recommendations of the PNNS (National Nutrition and Health Programme, to be found on the website, recommend that consumers reduce their consumption of meat (beef, pork, mutton, etc.) and cold meats and move towards a diet richer in plants, particularly pulses, rich in plant proteins and fibre, wholegrain cereals, sources of complex carbohydrates and rich in fibre, and minimally processed fruit and vegetables for fibre, minerals and vitamins.

3- To introduce guests to new dishes and flavours: through traditional cuisine as well as spice-rich world cuisine. Diversifying menus with vegetable proteins helps to develop taste while enjoying yourself!

4- To improve the quality of the products offered, particularly meat: offering less meat should allow savings to be reinvested in the purchase of quality meat from the region.


For collective restaurants serving more than 200 covers per day on average, managers are obliged to present to their governing bodies a multi-year plan for diversifying the proteins on their menus.

On an experimental basis, since November 2019, school canteens from kindergarten to high school (public or private, of any size) must offer a vegetarian menu at least once a week.


According to studies conducted by GreenPeace and the AMF in 2020, almost all towns (73 to 89%) offer a weekly vegetarian menu in school canteens, with a good variety of menus on offer and a balanced distribution of vegetarian main courses based on eggs, dairy products, processed products or entirely plant-based products.

This proportion is lower in secondary schools (only 59% offer a weekly vegetarian menu) and high schools (52%), with less diversified dishes, half of which are egg-based and less than 20% plant-based only.

In university or company catering, vegetarian alternatives are developing in response to societal demand, possibly driven by initiatives such as « Green Monday » or « Veggie Thursday ».


Lack of knowledge of the nutritional benefits of plants or of the regulations, need for cooking skills adapted to plants… Initial training courses do not yet include vegetarian dishes, cultural barriers, force of habit, there are still many obstacles!


Reducing the share of animal products, which again account for a large part of the cost of supplies, either by introducing vegetarian meals at regular intervals or as a daily alternative, or by adjusting the size of portions, generally leads to savings if the alternatives are « home-made ». These savings can be reinvested in the purchase of quality, more sustainable products from the region: meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, but also fruit, vegetables and cereals. According to the Observatoire de la Restauration Bio et Durable, the more vegetarian menus are introduced in canteens, the more organic and local meat is offered.



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