The White House held the first Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health for the first time in 50 years in September. Given our commitment to increasing access to healthy, nutritious plant-based foods, PBFA was proud to be included in the White House’s Fact Sheet, the official package of actions agreed upon at the conference by business, civic, academic, and philanthropic leaders. Working alongside Chef Andrew Zimmern, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the James Beard Foundation, and the Independent Restaurant Coalition, PBFA is part of a coalition designed that is spearheading efforts to encourage chefs, restaurant owners, and operators to offer at least one plant-based or vegetarian option on their dinner menus.

As part of this initiative, PBFA’s Director of Foodservice Hannah Lopez recently participated in “Putting Plant-Based on the Menu,” a webinar designed to inspire foodservice operators to expand their plant-based offerings, featuring Chef Zimmern, White House leaders, Chef Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy, Chef Nina Curtis of Plant’ish & Co., the James Beard Foundation, the Independent Restaurant Coalition, and the EWG.  

The call kicked off with a statement from Laura Caroll, Policy Advisor for Rural, Agriculture, and Nutrition at the White House that reiterated the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to addressing diet-related disease and eliminating hunger through cross-industry collaboration.

“We know that hunger and diet-related diseases are largely preventable and that we have a long road to travel,” shared Laura. “Together we have the policies the ideas and the commitment to reduce diet-related diseases and eliminate hunger in our country if we prioritize them so I hope after today’s webinar you leave it even more motivated to take meaningful action and we look forward to working with all of you in the months and years ahead.”

Elevating Plant-Based Cuisine

Bringing together a variety of experts and perspectives, the webinar served as an incredible opportunity to educate restaurantuers and the foodservice community on the benefits of adding more delicious, healthy, and sustainable plant-based options to their menus. Chef Amanda Cohen shared more about her dedication to creating vegetable dishes that are cravable and detailed some inspiring, and surprising, ways she has leveraged whole vegetable ingredients to create culinary innovation – one example being using mustard greens as the base for a perfect creamy sorbet. During her presentation, Chef Nina Curtis emphasized the importance of creating foods that are “life giving,” meaning they support health and longevity, while tasting undeniably good. She also shared how plant-based foods can provide the perfect base for culturally relevant and diverse foods. “Plant-based is inclusive because you can already take whatever your menu is whether it’s Italian whether it’s Mexican and create delicious satiating dishes with the things you have already in your walk-in  pantry,” said Chef Curtis.

Plant-Based Menu Trends

Turning to the plant-based foods industry side of the presentation, PBFA’s Hannah Lopez provided insights into current foodservice menu trends – a sneak preview of our forthcoming 2022 Menu Trend Report. Pulling data from over 4,500 restaurants across the country, the insights Hannah shared provide a snapshot of where plant-based foods stand. Trends shared include plant-based dairy, including butter, milk, cheese, ice cream, and more, becoming a staple ingredient and the growing popularity of plant-based mac and cheese and bowls on menus. You can watch the video above for more key insights shared during Hannah’s presentation [25:06-30]. 

Helping PBFA Members Expand in Foodservice

The energy around the potential for expanding plant-based foods in restaurants and all dining facilities was palpable and there will be many more opportunities for conversation and action coming off of this initiative. 

PBFA is working to curate a list of all our members currently working in foodservice in an effort to connect our membership with future opportunities related to this ongoing effort. 

If you are a member currently active in foodservice, be sure to update your member profile accordingly. To do so, head to your Member Portal, navigate to the left sidebar, click “Company,” and update your “foodservice availability” along with any other company information you would like to share with us.