04 | 04 | 2022

Cost reduction and respect for the environment: the advantages of vegetarian menus in public catering

Consumer interest in a plant-based diet is growing steadily, and vegetarianism and its derivatives are taking the food industry and the restaurant industry by storm.

In just a few years, retail aisles and restaurant menus have seen many plant-based alternatives flourish to satisfy these new consumer needs. Inparallel to this trend, the EGalim law requires collective restaurants to source at least 50 th sustainable and quality products and to offer at least one vegetarian menu per week in school canteens.

Adoria reveals why it's in your best interest to offer more vegetarian dishes in your collective restaurant menus.

Cut costs

Vegetarian cooking doesn't have to mean complicated or expensive cooking. Many ingredients that replace meat, fish, or even eggs and dairy are actually cheaper than meat.

In addition, the price of meat tends to rise, especially for locally sourced meats. By increasing the number of meat-free dishes, you can make considerable savings in your company restaurant or school canteen.

This is a good lever to meet the requirements of the EGalim law: indeed, the sums saved can be reinvested in the purchase of organic products.

Propose healthier, allergen-free alternatives

Many people are lactose or egg intolerant. By offering plant-based options, you allow them to enjoy the cafeteria or school lunchroom without fear of a bad reaction. Other people are trying to reduce their meat, dairy or egg intake to be health conscious, but are not vegan.

Vegan dishes are cholesterol-free and contain less fat. This makes them attractive to those with high cholesterol or heart problems, and also to those who are careful about their figure: they can watch their diet while still eating at their company cafeteria.

Reduce the carbon footprint of your collective restaurant

In 2019, the ADEME indicates that the food on our plate has a direct impact on climate change. Some products would even be the source of 16 to 24 he greenhouse gas emissions of French households. Taking into account breeding, production and transport, animal products would therefore have a larger footprint than plant foods.

By offering more plant-based dishes in your collective restaurant, you are helping to reduce your carbon footprint.

Go beyond government expectations in school canteens

The French government provides a lot of advice and sets requirements through recent laws on student nutrition. It recommends that a child's healthy and balanced menus should consist of:

    • lots of fruits and vegetables,
    • lots of unrefined starches
    • meat, fish, eggs, beans, and other non-dairy protein sources,

some milk and dairy products,little fat/sugar/salt-rich foods and drinks.

To reduce the environmental impact of meals, the EGalim law requires, since September 2021, the service of at least one vegetarian menu per week in school canteens.

Following legal guidelines and going further

You need to make sure that you are offering a true vegetarian meal, not just a "meatless" meal. This means working on the recipes to make them palatable, while still meeting the nutritional requirements. Make sure that the vegetarian meals are as varied and balanced as the rest of the menu. You can do this by using pulses twice a week, soy, tofu or mycoprotein-based meat alternatives once or twice a week, and eggs and cheese once or twice a week.

You can also choose to go further, for example to:

  • provide two or even three meals a week without meat or fish.
    This is indeed the conclusion of a study conducted by researchers at the Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (Inrae). According to her, serving children vegetarian meals three times a week, followed by fish and white meat at the other two lunches, is an interesting way to reconcile good nutrition and respect for the environment.
  • or even to offer a vegetarian alternative dish every day so as not to leave out students who do not eat meat.
    On a voluntary basis, community canteens are already experimenting with a daily vegetarian meal.


So, ready to take the leap? A food service software can help you manage supplies and inventory to find plant-based alternatives. To do so, feel free to contact the Adoria team.