3.1.2022 Article

Every now and then it’s good to see if you can improve your routines, make healthier, more sustainable choice and turn them into habits. And what better moment to do that than January! A couple of years ago, I tried the Veganuary challenge and gained a lot of valuable insight. This year, I’m doing a pescatarian January – only fish and plant-based food – and would like to talk about the importance of small steps as we are gradually shifting from meat-based diets towards a more sustainable way of eating.

Two years ago, all of us at the Paulig Leadership Team took on the Veganuary challenge. It was an interesting experience that taught me two things: 

First was time – when breaking in a new dietary regime, initially you have to spend loads more time planning your meals – what to eat and how to prepare it. Shopping routines have to be re-invented and that takes time. Figuring out where to eat out takes time as not all restaurants are up to par when it comes to plant-based fare. 

Second was quality – on closer inspection, it seemed that many processed plant-based foods, particularly plant-based proteins, actually contain a lot of artificial nasties – which doesn’t quite gel with the idea that plant-based food is supposed to be more sustainable, not only for the planet but for people’s health as well. I am sure that as the category matures, these oddities will get cleaned out but for now you have to pay close attention to what you’re buying.  

All that being said, it’s inevitable that plant-based foods will become more of the norm and animal-based proteins will become more of a luxury item. Considering climate change, the growing population and the need to find food for everyone, it is simply impossible for things to remain as they are. 

Convenience, quality and taste drive the change

Here at Paulig, nearly 100% of our product portfolio is already plant-based, so we are well positioned to do our part in tackling this challenge. Our aim is to continuously develop our offering with focus on convenience and amazing taste, also utilising our Santa Maria spices and experience in creating flavours. In terms of sustainability, our ambition is that by 2030, 70% of our revenue will come from products that are good for people and the planet.

Reflecting back on my learnings from the previous Veganuary, convenience, quality and taste are indeed key to growing the popularity of sustainable, plant-based food. 

Small steps make all the difference

It’s important to note, however, that I am not advocating for everyone just to turn vegan. Rather, focus on the small steps that will make a difference – these tend to also be the way to drive permanent change (we are all familiar with New Year’s resolutions relating to complete life make-overs, right?). For example, it’s an excellent step if you can swap just one meat-based meal a week with a plant-based one. Not a big deal on an individual level but a huge step if more people pick up on this.

What should bring us and the planet plenty of hope is that the younger generations are ahead of the rest of us in these matters; they make choices based on their personal values and part of that is a shift towards plant-based diets. This is another reason why I believe change is inevitable. The young are already doing it.

On that note: I have two teenage sons, one of whom is an aspiring vegan, and probably will turn fully vegan once he moves out on his own. Throughout this January, he will do the full Veganuary and I will accompany him with a pescatarian diet.

Every now and then it’s good to see if you can improve your routines, make healthier, more sustainable choices and turn them into habits. For those to whom going fully vegan is a lot at once, the flexitarian approach may work better.