The food-service giant is partnering with the Humane Society of the United States to become more plant-forward and reduce carbon emissions in the coming years.
4 veggie burgers in front of the Sodexo logo
Credit: Getty Images / SOPA Images / LauriPatterson

You may not have heard of Sodexo, but you have probably eaten food they have made at some point or another. The food-service giant provides meals to 100 million consumers daily in 56 countries across the globe. Included in that are approximately 850 colleges and universities that use Sodexo for their on-campus food service. As you can probably imagine, that's a lot of purchasing power as well as a strong ability to make waves in the food-service world (for better or for worse). 

They have recently partnered with the Humane Society of the United States for an initiative with some pretty impressive positive environmental implications. Sodexo's overall goal is to reduce their carbon emissions by 34% by 2025. A crucial part of this strategy is increasing plant-based options on their menus. 

A recent health and nutrition survey conducted by the Institute of Food Technologies found that roughly 24% of U.S. 13- to 39-year-olds follow a vegetarian or vegan eating pattern. There may not be better places to offer more plant-based alternatives than institutions with a high concentration of educated young (plant-eating) adults. Sodexo is committed to having 42% of their menu items at all colleges and universities be plant-based by 2025. Not only will this help them meet demand for plant-based foods, but it will also help them lower the carbon emissions associated with the food they serve. 

To help jump-start this plan, Sodexo has been implementing Plant-Based Takeovers, where Sodexo chefs undergo training in plant-based cooking and menu planning led by the HSUS. The chefs then create plant-based menu items for each station of the college or university's cafeteria. Feedback from students, staff and faculty is strongly encouraged so that the changes can be sustained for the long term. "It's important to us to receive feedback directly from the customer as it helps us identify which plant-based dishes will become permanent fixtures of our menus," said Chef Jennifer DiFrancesco, director of culinary innovation for Sodexo Campus in a news release

A company like Sodexo making this size of an investment in plant-based foods can have a significant environmental impact. In a recent analysis, the company reported that the majority of their emissions came from its supply chain, with products like beef and dairy making up a significant portion. In 2020, the company created 6,752,380 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e, a unit used to measure carbon emissions), and this included 6,630,901 tCO2e from Scope 3 (aka supply chain) emissions. Reducing that number by 34% would be equivalent to taking almost 500,000 cars off the road for a year, which sounds like pretty monumental environmental savings. 

While no organization or initiative can be perfect, this is a step in the right direction when it comes to climate-friendly eating. "Any sustainability plan that's meant to create real change—and not just be greenwashing jargon—will center on shifting from a meat-heavy menu to one that's focused on plant-based entrées. I'm thankful to Sodexo for being a leader in the industry by committing to the tangible changes required to meet greenhouse gas emission goals," shared Karla Dumas, RDN, director of food service innovation for the HSUS, in a news release. Not to mention, it could help shape healthier eating habits for the students attending a Sodexo Campus school. If this has inspired you to try eating more plan-based, check out one of our delicious and easy plant-based meals for beginners.