ESS Partners With MOD Vegan & Vegetarian Network

18 May 2023

The Defence, Marine & Aerospace sector of ESS, part of Compass Group UK & Ireland, is partnering with the MOD Vegan & Vegetarian Network with the joint objective of ensuring service personnel have access to high-quality vegan and vegetarian food.    

The MOD Vegan & Vegetarian Network is a community supporting members of the Armed Forces to maintain their chosen diet, lifestyle or ethical beliefs while in service. It connects vegans and vegetarians across the tri-services to help and educate each other, as well as external groups.

As the Soft FM provider on over 250 military establishments across the UK, from Cornwall to the north of Scotland, ESS is perfectly positioned to partner with the Network to ensure vegans and vegetarians are well catered for in messes.

The partnership builds on ESS’ work to increase plant-based options and reduce meat on the menu, in line with health and wellbeing and Climate Net Zero commitments.

27% of the company’s core menu is already vegan or vegetarian and its culinary teams are continuing to develop and innovate in this area. A further 30% of the core menu is currently plant-forward so at least 30% of the meat in the dish has been replaced with a plant-based alternative.

With an engagement plan now underway, it is anticipated that the partnership will deliver a variety of benefits for military customers. These include a clear understanding of the food offer available for different dietary requirements, an opportunity for joint messaging in ESS outlets and collaboration to deliver special events.

Squadron Leader Sophie Foxen, Chair of the MOD Vegan & Vegetarian Network, commented:

“The Network wants everyone in the MOD to have the opportunity to enjoy nourishing vegetarian and vegan food, whether that’s every day or occasionally. Working with ESS is part of providing a positive ethical, environmentally friendly, and healthy culture in the MOD. These purposes relate to the Defence Sustainability and Diversity and Inclusion Strategies. We want to see enthusiasm for high quality vegan and vegetarian food throughout the MOD. For ethical vegans, whose belief system is to minimise exploitation of animals, particularly we know that improving access to nutritious vegan food helps personnel to maximise their output. Overall, as more working adults become vegan or vegetarian, we believe our partnership with ESS is important to help ensure that the MOD doesn’t miss out recruiting or retaining some top talent.”

Scott Freeman, Culinary Director – ESS Defence, commented:

“It’s important that we listen to our customers and by partnering with the MOD Vegan & Vegetarian Network, ESS will respond to the needs of those choosing to have a vegan or vegetarian diet in a really meaningful way. Vegan and vegetarian food is delicious, healthy and great for our planet, and we’ll be working with the Network to further develop and promote these options. This is building on our focus of reducing meat on our menus, supporting health and sustainability targets.”

Bob Gray, Managing Director – ESS Defence, Marine & Aerospace, added:

“Within our business and the wider industry, vegan and vegetarian options continue to increase in popularity. Working with the MOD Vegan & Vegetarian Network will enable us to better understand the wants and needs of this customer base, as well as their experiences to date. We’ve done a lot of work to enhance this element of our offer and we look forward to working with the Network to develop it further.”