Wanting to make an impact with a greener kitchen worldwide – that’s what kept Joris Heijnen busy more than ten years ago. He wanted to show restaurants how easy it can be to add a lot more vegetables to a menu while keeping the guests satisfied. And with success, because his company Greendish now supports 1000 locations (restaurants, municipalities and companies) to use more vegetables in order to ultimately contribute to the well-being of animals, people ánd the planet.
What inspired you to start Greendish?
After a burn-out, I spent some time on an organic farm in Costa Rica. Here I discovered how delicious it is to not eat meat, but vegetable-rich vegetarian meals. This experience made the idea that healthier and more sustainable food is a good way to really make a positive impact on the world increasingly clear to me. After all, everyone has to eat every day. I decided I had to do something about this.
In 2010 I registered for the ‘Improve the World’ traineeship. Together with my team, we have helped 15 restaurants with more vegetarian options on the menu and thus ensure more variety on the menu. After this traineeship I asked my project team if I could work on this project and so in 2011 I founded the foundation ‘Variation on the Menu’. With this I have achieved great work, including cooking competitions with chefs from restaurants from all over the country, workshops and training for more than 800 chefs and successful campaigns such as the Vegetarian restaurant week.
I soon saw that inspiration and awareness was not enough and I have set up several large scientific studies in collaboration with Wageningen University. I wanted to achieve lasting impact and I did this by expanding the team of nutritionists, chefs and business consultants with behavioral psychologists. Together we have developed tools and solutions for long-term motivation and behavioral change in employees. From here we launched Greendish in New York in 2018. A new name for an organization with the ambition to greenify all kitchens worldwide!
In what way does Greendish contribute to a better world?
We work on a positive impact in 3 ways. We do research towards sustainable and healthy food and try to share this knowledge as much as possible so that it also benefits others. For example, we give workshops, advice and we speak at conferences or lectures. You can count on over 9 years of experience, our multidisciplinary team and a scientific and personal approach.
In addition, we have the Greendish Success Formula developed. The formula for success is the result of a lot of research and helps restaurants, companies and municipalities to make their food supply more sustainable and healthier. By means of strategic tools, measurements, online courses and intensive guidance, we offer tools to work towards a lower footprint step by step without compromising customer satisfaction or profitability.
For municipalities we developed sustainable transition programs. A transition program looks at the food providers in the municipality and is aimed at making the food supply more sustainable and healthier for residents and visitors to the municipality. The municipality’s own company restaurant is of course included in this. With the transition program, municipalities can set a good example to residents, companies and other municipalities.
What impact has Greendish had so far?
With Greendish we have made over 1000 locations (restaurants, catering companies, municipalities, corporates) more sustainable. With this we have made almost 12 million meals greener, with the result that we have saved more than 2 million kilograms of CO2, more than 3.5 million m2 of land use and about 238 million liters of water!
What is your mission?
We contribute globally to the well-being of people, animals and the planet by working with food providers to make healthy and sustainable food available to everyone everywhere. We believe that we can achieve big changes with a small change on the plate.
What are you most proud of so far?
There are two things that really stand out for me.
The first is a large-scale study that we conducted at Van Der Valk in 2015. Through this research we found out that it goes unnoticed by the customer when you serve less meat and more vegetables. The customer remains equally satisfied with the dish. If you pay more attention to making the vegetables tastier and the presentation of the dish, guest satisfaction will even increase! This research indicates that serving less meat does not have to be at the expense of customer satisfaction, which is often thought. It is innovative research in science and has therefore been awarded a beautiful publication in a scientific journal. To top it all off, we have been able to reach more than 50 million (!) people through all the media attention the research has received. For example, items have been made about it on Dutch television, radio, it has made the newspapers and it has even made it to primetime news of NOS and RTL.
A second example of which I am proud is that we have adapted the lunch menu of caterer Eurest with Greendish. This change has been implemented in 800 locations of the chain. The potential annual environmental gain per location was 2,413 kg CO2 (161 trips The Hague / Amsterdam by car) and 2,652,550 liters of water (116 people can take a shower for a year). The adjustment in the lunch menu has ensured that 2 million sandwiches with less meat and more vegetables were sold every year. A huge impact!