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One Young World: Meat-free catering for a sustainable generation

The One Young World Global Summit came to London in October, bringing together the brightest young talent from around the world to accelerate global social impact.

And with sustainability one of the core objectives of the event, One Young World organisers decided to champion meat reduction by asking venue partners to provide entirely meat-free menus for all delegates.

With more than 3,600 people attending the four-day summit, going meat-free was no mean feat. The event took place across several of London’s leading venues, encompassing opening and closing ceremonies and dinners as well as keynotes, workshops and networking throughout the days. The QEII Centre, in the heart of Westminster, hosted three main stages and provided 30 event spaces in total for the event, and had the responsibility of catering for lunch service every day.

Meat-free at the QEII

Meat-free at the QEII

As One Young World outlined in its sustainability policy: “Meat is an inefficient food source, requiring more land and energy than a typical plant-based diet. Deforestation and methane gas emitted by animals both result in high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing meat consumption is therefore an important tool for minimising individual carbon footprints.”

The QEII Centre’s in-house caterers, QEII Taste, enthusiastically took on the challenge and used the One Young World summit as an opportunity to showcase two of its own new initiatives – hot boxes and allergen champions – as well as showing that vegetarian and vegan catering doesn’t mean missing out.

Lunch dishes on offer throughout the week included Thai green curry, chickpea and potato curry, Singapore noodles, Japanese Katsu curry, spinach and ricotta tortellini and onion bhaji with saffron rice, all served in QEII’s new recycled and recyclable hot boxes.

QEII Taste’s general manager Jason Dignam said: “We’re proud of our hot boxes as they have been designed and made using recycled materials and are then recyclable themselves – during lunch service we collect all the boxes back, rinse them and send them away to be repurposed. Doing this for more than 2,000 delegates per day saves an enormous amount of potential waste from going to landfill and was very much in keeping with One Young World’s sustainable objectives.”

Over the course of the event, QEII’s team of 18 chefs produced 12,300 individually boxed meals, catering for a total of 8,375 delegates, staff, volunteers and press. The centre also served 7,200 pastries and 6,690 pieces of fruit during afternoon breaks.

QEII’s 12 newly appointed ‘allergen champions’ were on hand for the entire event, to provide detailed advice to all delegates on the ingredients used in every dish, to ensure dietary requirements were met. The sustainable catering even extended to the centre’s staff canteen, where the same vegetarian and vegan dishes were served each day.

The organisers of One Young World were pleased with the outcome of the catering, saying: “The catering was very good, QEII met all of our requests and helped make everything as sustainable as possible. All the food was substantial and nourishing while being plant-based, and the hot boxes worked really well for our delegates to roam freely around the exhibition spaces and network, while being completely plastic-free and aiding our sustainability ethos. The allergen champions were a great touch, our event manager at QEII was always efficient and very helpful, and the venue worked very well to help us achieve our best summit yet.”