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Healthier and more sustainable school meals


SUSTAINMEALS – Sustainable School Meals is a project developed to promote a large-scale shift towards more healthy and sustainable plant-based meals. The project focused on individual and shared context-based variables to encourage that transition. Targeting catering services of public schools, the project took advantage of a parliamentary approval that mandates the inclusion of plant-based meals in school catering. The project was carried out in two phases: first, mapping barriers and facilitators of transition; then, designing an evidence-based toolkit for the transition. The project is based on the research team’s background findings in meat consumption or substitution, plant-based diets, behavioral change, food policy, and sustainability. Results may inform various fields and audiences interested in promoting sustainable living and health improvements through dietary choices.

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Eating habits are complex and shaped by various factors, including social surroundings, food availability and its organizational structure, personal taste, and familiarity with certain foods. To promote a shift towards healthier and more sustainable food systems, a coordinated effort is needed from various entities, including government agencies, civil society, health and environmental organizations, and market actors. This effort should be guided by a comprehensive research program that provides a unified understanding of how to decrease meat consumption and promote plant-based diets.

This is especially critical when considering the barriers to adopting more plant-based diets and that many people are unwilling to give up meat, despite recognizing the benefits of a more plant-based diet. To address this challenge, the project SUSTAINMEALS – Sustainable School Meals’ approach considered both individual factors and broader societal factors by combining the expertise of professionals from the fields of Psychology and Sociology in topics ranging from sensory and emotional determinants of food preference to food security.

SUSTAINMEALS was conducted at ICS-ULisboa in partnership with Iscte-University Institute of Lisbon and was supported by Programa Lisboa 2020, Portugal 2020, and the European Regional Development Fund (Lisboa-01-0145-FEDER-029348), and by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (PTDC/PSI-GER/29348/2017).

Approach and Results


Implications and Recommendations

Standalone document about SUSTAINMEALS

Download the document below:

Policy Brief - Sustainmeals_english
Download PDF • 155KB



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