Award Standards

The Flexitarian Award is given to eateries that have applied to have their menus assessed against our standards.

Click on each of the headings below to find out more about our standards and what you need to do to meet them, as well a little bit of information about why we’ve included each standard.

Our assessment is based on three areas:

  • 1. The proportion of plant based options on your menu Open or Close

    We look at your menus to see how many plant based options there are for your customers to choose from (including those that contain eggs or dairy) compared with the number of options that contain meat or fish. We’ll also look at how many completely plant based dishes there are, containing no animal products whatsoever. When reviewing your menus, we'll consider efforts being made to reduce the amount of meat used in non-plant based dishes.

    The following is an indicator of the proportion of plant based dishes you’ll need in order to achieve each level of Flexitarian Award, however we will consider each case individually and look at your performance in other categories before choosing your final award level:

    Green: All of your dishes are plant based; your eatery serves no meat or fish products or ingredients.

    Bronze: At least 25% of starters and mains contain no meat or fish, and at least 1 of these contains no animal products or ingredients.

    Silver: At least 40% of starters and mains contain no meat or fish, and at least 2 of these contain no animal products or ingredients.

    Gold: At least 60% of starters and mains contain no meat or fish, and at least half of these contain no animal products or ingredients.

     

    More detail

    To qualify as a meat- and fish free main, dishes should contain no meat- or fish, nor products derived from meat or fish. Care should be taken to check labels when making meat and fish free mains; ingredients that are commonly overlooked include meat or fish based stocks, gelatine, fish sauce or shrimp paste and Worcestershire sauce.   

    When making dishes that contain no animal products, the dish should also exclude any ingredients that are produced by animals. This includes eggs, all dairy products and honey. E120 red food colouring is often overlooked, but does contain animal-derived ingredients.

     

    Why?

    Our aim is to encourage people to reduce their intake of meat and dairy products in line with evidence that doing so is associated with better health and is better for the environment.

    By offering your customers a wider selection of meat-, fish- and animal product free options, you are creating a dining environment that makes choosing plant based meals easier for your customers and normalises these choices. Moreover, menus with a high proportion of plant based option cater for a wider range of diets and are more inclusive.

  • 2. The welfare standards of the meat, fish and dairy that you serve Open or Close

    We look at the animal products that you serve to check that they all meet our Core Welfare Standards. We also award points for animal products produced to higher welfare standards.

    Here is what you need to do to reach each level:

    Green: If you are serving no animal products whatsoever, this standard doesn’t apply to you and you’ll be automatically passed. If you are serving eggs or dairy, your eggs must be free range or organic in order to comply with our Core Welfare Standards. In addition to this, you must score 10 out of 13 for Higher Welfare Standards animal products.

    Bronze: You must meet our Core Welfare Standards.

    Silver: You must meet our Core Welfare Standards, and score a minimum of 46 out of 69 for Higher Welfare Standards animal products. 

    Gold: You must meet our Core Welfare Standards, and score a minimum of 56 out of 69 for Higher Welfare Standards animal products.

     

    For more information on what our Core Welfare and Higher Welfare standards please see the following sections:

    Core Welfare Standards Higher Welfare Standards 

     

    Why?

    The EU offers legislation for the minimum standards protecting laying hens, chicken, pigs and calves, but this is often expanded and improved upon by UK minimum welfare standards. Higher welfare systems offer still better conditions for farm animals in the UK and we believe that the Compassionate Food Guide is a good guide of the quality of these systems.

    Less intensive farming systems, such as organic, have a lesser impact on the environment and are thought to be a positive choice for our health. We believe that by encouraging the wider adoption of these values within the restaurant trade, we can reduce our collective environmental impact and encourage people to make more positive food choices.

    Overfishing and high-yield fishing methods have left many species of fish in our oceans seriously threatened. We believe that MSC certification offers reassurance that seafood has been responsibly caught by a certified sustainable fishery.

    Farmed fish are often kept in poor conditions, their feed puts strain on wild fish stocks and poorly managed farms can threaten wild fish with disease and interbreeding. Organic standards certify fisheries that, among other things, use organic fish feed and limit stocking densities, while RSPCA Assured standards ensure the fish are healthier and less stressed.

  • 3. Encouraging your customers to choose plant based options Open or Close

    We look at your menus to consider how you encourage and incentivise your customers to choose plant based options. Our assessment is based on price incentive, but we recognise that menu price points depend on a number of factors and that some eateries may need to find other ways to encourage their customers to choose plant based options.

    The following is an indicator of the price incentive needed to achieve each level of Flexitarian Award, however we will consider each case individually and look at your performance in other categories before choosing your final award level:

    Green: Your eatery serves no meat or fish products or ingredients. This standard doesn’t apply to you and you’ll be automatically passed.

    Bronze: Meat- and fish free starters and mains are cheaper on average.

    Silver: Meat- and fish free starters and mains are 10% cheaper on average.

    Gold: Meat- and fish free starters and mains are 15% cheaper on average.

     

    Why?

    Our aim is to encourage people to reduce their intake of meat and dairy products in line with evidence that doing so is associated with better health and is better for the environment, but many people are reluctant to choose meat- and fish free mains when eating out. Making your plant based dishes cheaper, for example, may encourage your customers to choose these dishes over more expensive dishes that contain meat and fish.  Furthermore, placing a premium on dishes that contain meat and fish means that you can choose animal products produced to higher welfare standards, whilst potentially reducing your overall meat purchase as customers are encouraged to choose plant based dishes.

 

We base our assessment on starters and mains (no sides or desserts) from sample menus from across all your services and menus, where applicable, including: 

  • ⦿ Main weekday breakfast, lunch and dinner menus
  • ⦿ Weekend breakfast, lunch and dinner menus (where these differ from weekday)
  • ⦿ Children’s menus
  • ⦿ Specials menus (submit one example)

 

Peer Review

As part of the ongoing maintenance of the Flexitarian Award, we ask our applicants to visit another eatery that has been through the application process. This is designed not only to help maintain our standards throughout the year, but to give our Award holders the opportunity to visit other another business and share ideas around their Flexitarian menus, sourcing and communications. You’ll be paired with another eatery and supplied with a questionnaire to complete on your visit.

 

Compliance and award validity

We are a small team, working on a voluntary basis. We’re not a certifying body and can offer no accreditation; checking total compliance with our standards isn’t practical for us at this stage, so we rely largely on your good faith and your obligation to your customers and to the environment. For the time being, the Flexitarian Award has no set validity period, but as our team grows and the Award develops we reserve the right to introduce an expiry date for issued awards, and request reassessment. To help us maintain our standards after our initial desktop assessment, we’ve introduced a peer review system (see above).

Use of logos

Achieving the Flexitarian Award to any standard allows you to use the Flexitarian Award name and logo of the appropriate colour in your eatery, on your menus and any publicity material. It does not permit you to use the name or logos from any other accreditation scheme, regardless of whether or not your restaurant uses products assured by their organisation. Please contact the specific organisation if you wish to make use of their name and logo.