On Monday 8th June, the Switch Up Your Lunch veg pledge campaign is inviting organisations across the county to “eat to beat climate change”. The campaign is supported by Oxfordshire Greentech, Good Food Oxford, Oxfordshire County Council, the Women in Sustainability Network and the Low Carbon Hub.
The campaign encourages participants to pledge to eat a veggie or vegan lunch on the 8th June, helping to address the need to reduce meat and dairy consumption for a sustainable future.
Oxfordshire Greentech spoke to two of our members who are taking part – Steve Neal (Head of Audit at Shaw Gibbs, Founder Member) and Rupert Wilkinson (MD of Oxford Product Design, Associate Founder member) – and find out why they are joining #SwitchUpYourLunch.
Head of Audit at Shaw Gibbs
MD of Oxford Product Design
Hannah: Thanks for speaking to me about our campaign to encourage people to “eat to beat climate change”! Why are you taking part in this campaign?
Steve: We had planned to attend the Oxford Green Week after a year of our Shaw Gibbs Green Team having been formed and publish our first annual report to show what we have achieved so far in our plan to reduce our carbon footprint. Joining SUYL seemed a good alternative plan!
Rupert: It’s something that I’ve been doing already this year. It was part of my New Year’s Resolution anyway – eat vegetarian lunches during the working week. And I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve tried to let people know that’s what I’m doing and have tried to let them know why. But what really inspired me to take on this challenge was that as a population, we shouldn’t really be eating this much meat and meat should be something that’s more precious. Oxford Product Design has got the right culture for this, and everyone responded very positively when I told them about it. Some people said “I’m already vegetarian, what do I do?”. So I said, “you’ve got to eat vegan!”
“What really inspired me to take on this challenge was that we shouldn’t be eating this much meat and meat should be something that’s more precious.”
Hannah: That’s fantastic, sounds like lots of different factors led to you choosing this. So, this campaign was primarily to help people make more sustainable choices. But what does sustainability mean to you?
Steve: It means making sensible (“sustainable”) adjustments to the way we do things to help us to operate in a way which is more environmentally sustainable.
Rupert: Sustainability is about having a viable alternative. Making lots of small decisions that hopefully will have a longer term lasting effect. It’s about doing the right thing by the planet, by future generations. It’s that kind of responsibility and legacy. With lunch, it’s just about making a change, seeing how that goes, then maybe trying another change. I do aspire to go vegan at some point, but I can’t give up cheese just yet.
“It’s about doing the right thing by the planet, by future generations.”
Hannah: Yes, and this campaign doesn’t force you to give up cheese forever, it encourages the first steps to reducing it. My friend has cheese twice a year – on her birthday and at Christmas – it’s a good way to really treat herself (even if she does just go for the Tesco Basic one… not that I’m judging!)
So what’s your go-to veggie lunch?
Steve: Something involving avocados and toast is always a winner for me.
Rupert: During lockdown, I’ve been eating salad pitta breads. Can’t get enough of it – bit of mayonnaise, bit of salad, cheese, and then a little bit of balsamic dressing on top. That would be my desert island food. If I can chuck olives and feta in there, it just takes it to the next level.
“Our Green Team has been reviewing the way we operate, making easy wins such as reduce – reuse – recycle and we are considering some larger capital projects that will have an impact on our energy use.”
Hannah: Both sound delicious! So, what’s next for your companies in terms of sustainability?
Steve: Shaw Gibbs has been working on a plan to gradually reduce our carbon footprint. Our Green Team has been reviewing the way we operate, making easy wins such as reduce – reuse – recycle and we have started to write an environmental impact report. We are considering some larger capital projects that will have an impact on our energy use. Sustainability applies to individuals as well – we will continue to monitor the health and happiness of our people following on from our successful wellbeing day earlier this year.
Rupert: I can’t say too much at the moment, but we’re working on something really exciting that’s going to change the way we as individuals deal with waste and recycling. As we come to the end of Circular Economy week, it’s never been so important to think about our packaging and how we can make sure to make best use of our planet’s precious resources.
“Give it a go, you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s better for your health, it’s better for the animals, and it’s better for the planet.”
Hannah: What would you say to other people who aren’t yet involved in this campaign?
Steve: Why not?! Seriously, Shaw Gibbs are only in the relatively early stages of considering how we respond to our environmental responsibilities and we really don’t have all the answers or a fully integrated strategy at this stage. But there are some easy wins that we can all do and something like SUYL is easy to involve everybody in our team to build awareness and involvement.
Rupert: Give it a go, you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s better for your health, it’s better for the animals, and it’s better for the planet. It’s potentially cheaper – I’ve noticed with the veggie options, they’re either bigger or cheaper. So make a small change, but try and do it for a longer period.
Hannah: Thank you, both. It’s great to speak to people in the business community committed to trying new things and taking the steps necessary to craft a healthier, happier, greener future for our planet.
Organisations and individuals will be using the hashtag #SwitchUpYourLunch on social media before and throughout the day, sharing photos of their meals. To encourage people to cook creative meals at home, the campaign will be hosting daily online cooking demos for the whole week starting 8th June on the Good Food Oxford Facebook page.
Organisations and individuals are encouraged to get involved, download helpful resources and make their pledge at goodfoodoxford.org/switchupyourlunch.