More than 1,200 Swiss restaurants participate in “Swisstainable Veggie Day” by offering their customers a vegetarian menu and allowing them, on the occasion of World Vegetarian Day on October 1st, to contribute to climate protection. This initiative, launched by Switzerland Tourism (ST) in collaboration with several partners, is an important milestone towards more sustainable gastronomy. The goal is to encourage restaurant customers to opt for a vegetarian menu more often, even after this day.
Vegetarian cuisine has many advantages, especially with regard to its impact on sustainable development. It is, in fact, proven that a vegetarian diet generates less CO₂ and, therefore, contributes to the achievement of climate goals. An approach aligned with the Swisstainable sustainability program launched by ST in 2021. To promote greater diversity in dishes, ST is organizing “Swisstainable Veggie Day” on Saturday, October 1, in collaboration with HotellerieSuisse, GastroSuisse, Planted and Eaternity , on the occasion of the World Day of Vegetarianism. By inventing a creative vegetarian menu or putting a wider variety of vegetarian dishes on their menu, restaurateurs will show their guests that locally sourced seasonal vegetables are more than just a side dish and plant-based alternatives to meat are succulent. . The menus served that day will be as varied as the Swiss gastronomic offer: from starred restaurants to steakhouses, from trendy urban bistros to traditional mountain huts, more than 1,200 establishments participate in this action. Even on the tracks and in the air, it will be possible to savor this Veggie Day, whether in the CFF dining cars, or in the planes of Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) and Edelweiss. This day of action is aimed at both the Swiss public and foreign guests, who can find detailed information about it at: MySwitzerland.com/veggieday.
According to a recent estimate by Eaterity, Veggie Day will result in a reduction of 75 tonnes of CO₂ across the country. By way of comparison, the same amount of CO₂ could be offset by planting 252,000 oak trees, which in a single day would have the capacity to extract these 75 tons of CO₂ from the air and store them. This would require the equivalent of an area of approximately 141 football fields.
Veggie Day is more than just a day of action. It aims to reinforce the long-term desire to eat vegetarian food more often, for example by expanding and diversifying the vegetarian offer in restaurants or encouraging establishments to organize their own Vegetarian Day in the future. Gastronomy thus responds to a need, because the demand for vegetarian or vegan dishes is constantly increasing all over the world. While vegetarians and vegans currently represent around 5% of the population in Switzerland*, the number of flexitarians (who choose a vegetarian diet more often without giving up meat or fish) is increasing.
The tourism industry’s strong interest in Veggie Day satisfies Martin Nydegger, Switzerland’s Director of Tourism: “Despite the pandemic and the shortage of qualified personnel, Swiss gastronomy is committed to sustainability. We have deliberately chosen to make it easier for restaurants to participate in Veggie Day, so this is an incentive to join our Swisstainable sustainability movement.” The success is there: since the launch of the invitation to participate in Veggie Day, registrations for the Swisstainable program have increased by 62%, currently reaching a total of 1,200 participating tourism companies.
The fact that so many establishments sign up for Swisstainable Veggie Day is also due to the efforts of subsidiary partners GastroSuisse and HotellerieSuisse. Major companies such as Swiss International Airlines (SWISS), SBB Restaurant Cars, McDonald’s, Coop Restaurants and Swiss Youth Hostels are also committed to this day of action. Some will even extend their involvement beyond Veggie Day, such as SBB, which planned a two-week promotional offer on vegetarian and vegan menus in all dining cars in early October.
Vegetarianism has a long tradition in Switzerland: founded in 1898, Hiltl is in fact the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world. Switzerland is also innovating in this area: the start-up Planted, which successfully produces meat substitutes based on plant proteins, has big international ambitions. The conditions are therefore ideal to make the population and foreign visitors increasingly eager to taste the pleasures of vegetarian cuisine in Switzerland.