It’s no secret that American restaurants serve big portions. Huge, jumbo-sized portions. Yet now, one of the largest culinary bodies in the United States is calling on chefs and restaurant owners to rethink one of the most important ingredients in those huge, often horribly unhealthy portions — animal protein.
All of that is a fancy way of saying that American restaurants serve too much meat. That’s the driving message behind Menus of Change, a joint effort between the Culinary Institute of America and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition.
In a new statement, the group writes: “Reducing the amount of red meat (e.g. beef, pork, and lamb) on menus as part of a movement to place a greater emphasis on healthy, plant-based foods – including plant-based proteins – is the single most important contribution the foodservice industry can make toward environmental sustainability.”
About 70 to 80% of CIA graduates end up working in a restaurant, hotel, or resort kitchen after graduation, so the educational institute could have a major influence on the future of American cuisine.
According to the Menus of Change website, the initiative is aimed at taking a small step towards addressing huge problems, including obesity, diabetes, the ethical sourcing of food, factory food production, and the challenge of feeding the extra two billion human beings who will be born before 2050.
The culinary experts want more restaurants to take part in a “protein flip,” switching out some of their meat ingredients for more healthy veggie-based options.
Everyone knows that Americans are obsessed with red meat, so it’s unlikely the country will suddenly go vegetarian just because a group of Harvard researchers ask nicely. But over time, the CIA and Harvard team hope to encourage the culinary industry to take the lead in presenting Americans with more healthy and sustainable meals.