The Humane Society of the United States has released its Protein Sustainability Scorecard, taking a close look at the food service industry in the U.S. and progress toward offering climate-friendly, plant-based foods.

To meet client demand and public sentiment, virtually every major food service company has incorporated sustainability goals into their business models. As the scorecard demonstrates, failing to center goals around food and shifting to climate-friendly, plant-based offerings, these sustainability goals should be viewed as an example of greenwashing.

The HSUS Protein Sustainability Scorecard is meant to find out what companies are actually doing to keep sustainability promises.

The HSUS sent a survey to the largest food service companies in the country to collect specifics about their goals. 

Many clients would be pleased to learn that their food service providers are taking their sustainability pledges seriously and taking necessary steps to address their environmental impact. ISS Guckenheimer, for example, received an “A” on the scorecard for its actions centered around climate-friendly foods, including a pledge that 55% of all offerings will be plant-based by 2025.

Those companies that earned “A” grades include:

  • Fresh Ideas (50% of its menu offerings will be plant-based by July 1, 2025).
  • Sodexo (one-third of offerings will be plant-based by 2025 and the company will start piloting Default Veg concepts).
  • Elior North America (50% of offerings will be meatless by 2025, with an emphasis on those items being increasing entirely plant-based).
  • Southwest Foodservice Excellence (31%-35% of offerings will be plant-based by the end of 2024).
  • Metz (At least 35% of meat-based meals options will transition to plant-based on menus by 2025).
  • Café Services (one-third of offerings will be plant-based by the end of 2024)
  • HHS (30% of offerings will be meatless and/or plant-based by the end of 2023)
  • Creative Dining Services (50% of offerings will be plant-based by 2025).

While several companies are demonstrating leadership and backing their sustainability promises with actions, others demonstrate a need for improvement. Some companies have made public sustainability pledges and greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments, while having no public goals on increasing their percentage of climate-friendly, plant-based offerings. 

Animal products have a much larger environmental impact than plant-based foods, using more resources and causing more greenhouse gas emissions. 

“Producing meat, eggs and dairy is an inefficient and environmentally wasteful process compared to producing the same amount of calories from foods that are plant-based,” said Karla Dumas, director of food service innovation at the HSUS. “It raises a concern when a company has a sustainability commitment but does not have measurable goals on shifting to more plant-based foods.”

Read the Scorecard

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