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DefaultVeg Menu and Leaders Featured at “The Future of Federal Food Purchasing: Transforming Policy & Practice” Summit 

DefaultVeg Press Release

March 12, 2024


Laura Lee Cascada

Senior Director, Campaigns

The Better Food Foundation’s powerful plant-based-default strategy makes its way to the two-day food procurement summit hosted at George Washington University.  BFF’s Senior Director of Campaigns gave remarks on panel about vendors lowering their greenhouse gas emissions.

Better Food Foundation’s DefaultVeg campaign saw another expansion today by setting the menu for the national “The Future of Federal Food Purchasing: Transforming Policy & Practice” conference hosted in Washington, D.C., March 11-12, 2024. The conference is hosted by the Federal Good Food Purchasing Coalition and the Global Food Institute at George Washington University. It brings together policymakers, food service professionals, businesses, and diverse communities to explore how values-aligned food procurement can be leveraged to advance the federal government’s goals for nutrition and health, climate mitigation, racial equity, economic competition, and worker well-being.

Better Food Foundation’s DefaultVeg strategy uses behavioral nudges to encourage plant-based diet change. Already incorporated on many college campuses and the entire public hospital system in New York City, DefaultVeg has proven both satisfactory and sustainable, encouraging more customers to enjoy delicious plant-based meals and significantly reducing these institutions’ carbon footprints. The Federal Good Food Purchasing Coalition’s current standards encourage participating institutions to make plant-based foods the default or promote plant-based options as a convenient and appealing choice.

Better Food Foundation’s Senior Director of Campaigns, Laura Lee Cascada, served as a panelist for the summit’s “How Vendors Can Achieve Food-Related Greenhouse Gas Reductions: Examples from the Field” breakout session. She gave the following prepared remarks during the session:

“The Better Food Foundation is working to create a new, resilient food norm—one that centers plants. You’ve heard some great examples today showcasing how institutions are swapping beans for beef to slash their eco footprints. Today I want to tell you about one particular strategy that peer-reviewed studies have shown is among the most effective that institutions can implement to rapidly shift dining behavior toward plant-based foods.

“Are you all enjoying the food here this week? You may not have noticed that most options are plant-based. The subtle but powerful set of strategies behind these menus is called DefaultVeg, which, in its simplest form, means offering plant-based foods by default, with the choice to opt into meat or dairy. This essentially flips what we think of as a normal meal, nudging people to pick the more sustainable option—without taking away anyone’s choices.

“A study we conducted with Food for Climate League at Sodexo universities shows how powerful DefaultVeg is: when used consistently, it more than doubled the uptake of plant-based meals. Throughout New York City’s entire public hospital system, plant-based defaults have led to more than half of eligible patients choosing plant-based meals, with a 95 percent satisfaction rate. They’re serving 1 million plant-based meals a year, cutting food’s carbon footprint by 36 percent and saving half a million dollars per year. 

“The best part is that this approach can be adapted to any setting, from buffets to catering orders, and can be implemented right now through easy, basic changes to the way you present food to diners. You can use DefaultVeg to meet climate policies you’ve already created—but if not, you don’t need to wait out the lengthy policymaking process to get started.

“You can reach out to me at the Better Food Foundation for help, and we’ll help you find the best nudge strategies for your event, company, or institution. Thank you.”

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact [email protected].


About Better Food Foundation

The Better Food Foundation (BFF) is an action tank that incubates novel strategies for diet change. BFF is both research-informed and action-driven, aims to accelerate the shifts to plant-centered eating that is already taking place in the world, and seeks to nudge people and institutions to adopt new norms that center plant-based foods in our diets and institutions.

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Mar 12, 2024

DefaultVeg Menu and Leaders Featured at “The Future of Federal Food Purchasing: Transforming Policy & Practice” Summit 

The Better Food Foundation’s powerful plant-based-default strategy makes its way to the two-day food procurement summit hosted at George Washington University.