Hillingdon Hospital in Greater London has partnered with plant-based subscription company Vibrant Vegan and the Open Kitchen Co. to launch hot vegan meal vending machines.
The project ultimately aims to install 500 vending machines in hospitals across the UK by 2023. The Hillingdon launch follows a survey of NHS staff that revealed 78 percent of employees would choose to eat a hot vegan meal if it was available.
“As we all know, the NHS has been doing an incredible job of keeping the country afloat during this terrible pandemic,” said Vibrant Vegan founder Iain Burke-Hamilton. “And it’s been a pleasure to collaborate with Open Kitchen Co. to try and make a difference.”
Vibrant Vegan currently delivers nutritious microwave meals across the UK via a subscription plan. The company will fill the Hillingdon vending machine with 18 of its most popular vegan meals, including No-Meatball Bolognese, Super Mac & Cheeze, Piri Piri Jambalaya, and Mumbai Cauli Thali.
Open Kitchen Co.’s high-tech machines have touchless, COVID-proof technology, and can heat a meal from frozen in less than four minutes. This will ensure hospital staff have access to quick, hot, and nutritious plant-based meals at all times. Customers can also choose to have their meals dispensed hot or cold and microwave separately.
“It’s great to be working with the NHS,” said Liz Kenny, Director of Open Kitchen Co. “Providing staff and visitors with hot, tasty, and nutritious meals 24/7.”
“We’re confident the partnership is going to improve the quality of NHS staff diets across the country,” added Burke-Hamilton.
UK Hospitals Ditch Meat
Personal health is not the only reason UK hospitals are cutting back on meat. Public sector caterers announced in April that they would cut 9 million kilograms of meat from menus in schools, universities, care homes, and hospitals each year.
This reduction—approximately 20 percent of the total meat served—will significantly cut the groups’ carbon footprint. It will also save the equivalent of 45,000 cows or 16 million chickens. The pledge initially launched in January 2019 the trade magazine Public Sector Catering.
“It represents a bold move, because it is not being mandated. It would have been much easier to sit back and wait until they were either prompted or forced into action like this by government,” said David Foad, editor-in-chief of the magazine.