Increase the amount of vegetarian food and reduce waste

Omnia’s student restaurants are constantly striving to find new ways to increase the amount of vegetarian food, reduce waste and operate in a safe manner.

Three thousand diners visit Omnia’s seven student restaurants every day. The more diners there are, the more food is also prepared, and the greater the impact of the choices made in the kitchen. Omnia’s food services are constantly considering how to produce food more sustainably and safely.

The sustainability of food is affected by, among other things, food planning, such as what dishes are offered. A vegetarian day is one to two times a week, as is a fish day. The rice has been changed to a mixture of oatmeal and rice and a variety of salads are served daily. The planning is always based on the nutritional values that should be met at each meal according to the recommendations.

One’s own food choices also play an important role. When hungry, it is easy to eat with your eyes, although you can always go for more food if you are hungry. For example, you can monitor your own amount of food waste going to the trash with the help of a bio-scale on Kirkkokatu student restaurant. After the pilot, it will be examined whether bio-scales will be procured for other sites as well.

Image 1. Bio-scale in the Omnia’s Kirkkokatu student restaurant

Although student restaurants have so far been particularly vigilant about health safety, the pandemic time challenged us to think about health safety at a whole new level. For example, when diners take their own food, it means that every diner touches the dispensing equipment. Touching the same tools is a risk for spreading diseases.
To reduce the risk, it was decided to pilot an automatic spread dispenser at the bread table on Kirkkokatu student restaurant. The device has received praise from users for its hygiene. Consumption of the spread has also decreased: from about 14 kg before the dispenser, it is now about 10 kg. In addition, as the number of spread boxes decreases, less plastic waste has been generated.

Image 2. An automatic spread dispenser.

Now Omnia’s food services are looking for best vegetarian recipes in the “Vegetarian food to your taste” competition!

Image 3. Vegetarian dish.

“Vegetarian food to your taste” is a competition that aims to find new, tasty vegetarian dishes for Omnia’s student restaurants’ menus. The recipe itself must be either completely vegan or lacto-ovo-vegetarian.

The competition is open to all Omnia’s students and employees. Participate in the competition by sending your own vegetarian recipe and a picture of the finished portion using the online form.

The purpose of the competition is to find out what kind of dishes can be achieved with a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. The purpose of the competition is therefore to find new flavours. Another reason for this competition is to find recipes to reduce the carbon footprint of cooking by decreasing the use of meat products.

The lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet may include vegetarian products such as vegetables, roots, berries, fruits, potatoes, cereals, edible fats, as well as dairy products and eggs.

The top 10 recipes with the best idea and taste and easy to prepare will be selected for the final competition itself. From these, students select the winners. The best vegetarian dishes will have access to the virtual e-book as well as Omnia’s students’ restaurants’ menus and will be tasted for the first time by all Omnia students in September 2022 during the annual national food waste week.

Article by:

Mika Heino

Expert, International Affairs, Omnia, the Joint Authority of Education in Espoo Region