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Vegetable Summit 2018

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Back in February this year was the first time I heard about the ‘Veg Power‘ campaign. I was invited on the radio to talk about making veg prep easy and recipes ‘fuss free’ following on from the increased media coverage on this subject. Anna Taylor, Executive Director at the Food Foundation was on the phone and we were interviewed together. Read my blog here Radio Kent article Encouraging more vegetables to be eaten, raising awareness particularly with ‘fussy eaters’, teenagers and understanding more about the environmental challenges, is something I feel very strongly about so started following this campaign carefully. This is the brilliant clip that was used to crowdfund and may explain further: video

I was thrilled to be able to spend the day on the top floor (9th floor) of City Hall on Monday 8th October 2018 for the second Vegetable Summit. Over the year, with growing support from pledgers and collaborations with more than 150 organisations there was lots of news to share. At the Summit we received a ‘goodie bag’ and the publication of the first Peas Please progress report, ‘which details the action taken by Peas Please pledgers since they first committed to support veg intake a year ago, and examines opportunities for effecting meaningful change in the next few years.’

I found the afternoon incredibly interesting from real life stories, keynote speeches and panel discussions it was not only entertaining but I have come away with a much deeper understanding and I believe the severity of the situation in this country. Professor Alan Dangour, Professor of Food and Nutrition for Global Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine spoke about “Why vegetables are good for our health”. Veg are a critical part of healthy diets. UK veg consumption is well below target. As our vegetable consumption is becoming more diverse so to are the countries worldwide where we seek to find these ingredients. I thought it was interesting to know that in 1987 – 70% of our vegetables were from the UK. In 2006 – 50% from the UK and now this is much less…  Then we heard from Tony Juniper, Executive Director for Advocacy and Campaigns, WWF – “Why plant-based diets are better for our planet”. Personally, I found this talk very powerful and its not something I would initially consider, sustainability is a massive long term problem. One of his conclusive statements were “There is a decline in planetary health signs at the same time as human health indicators” Tony Juniper tells us how eating more vegetables can help drive urgently needed shifts in our food system.

There were regular breaks in the afternoon for questions and comments and one comment I agreed with was when dining out, why make it the more expensive, the more difficult (sometimes) option on a menu, vegetables, vegetarian and vegan food should be the default on the menu!

Re-inventing ready meals was a great discussion, and it was exciting to hear Pete Johnson, General Marketing Manager at Birds Eye as they announce they will be developing and advertising new meal ranges that contain at least two portions of veg each!

At the end of the afternoon, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Chef, Campaigner & TV Presenter announced the initiative’s progress in numbers.  New pledgers included most of the supermarkets, Waitrose & Partners, Asda, Aldi, and they join Lidl who we had already heard about their successful breakthroughs.

The most amazing announcement was from ITV for £2M prime time advertising space for an advertising campaign that Adam & Eve are creating. Adam and Eve will be donating their time to create a ground breaking campaign which will be funded by a unique alliance of the UK’s major retailers. Here are details of the advertising campaign.

The end of the afternoon was a vegetable fun fair, drinks, canapes, and all kinds of veg based fun. I thoroughly enjoyed battling against another participant on the protein game and I was lucky enough to dip for a gold carrot…

The vegetable orchestra performed, yes really, music from blowing into a carrot flute! I had heard about this but it really was musical and entertaining, what talented individuals…

Pledges by me, personally, continue to talk veg, use veg in as many as my recipe demos particularly childrens classes and workshops. Promote and develop my involvement locally with our producers and suppliers, we are in the ‘Garden of England’ no less…Support ‘veg power’ and can’t wait to hear how they progress over the next year, ready with that TV ad too!

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