HAS starts plant-based minor and gets on board in the transition to ‘green proteins’

News 24 May 2017
Minor Plant(w)aardige Voeding HAS University of Applied Sciences

"It was high time for a study programme focussed completely on plant-based nutrition. We can’t avoid the issue any longer: plants are the future."

On 2 and 3 May 2017, students of HAS University of Applied Sciences and HAN University of Applied Sciences started with the first edition of the new third-year minor ‘Plant(w)aardige toekomst’. No fewer than 40 students have enrolled on this 10-week long minor which studies the entire plant-based food chain. This is the first time that Universities of Applied Sciences have joined forces with business to develop a study programme that addresses the transition to ‘green proteins’ in our daily eating routine, and the global trend whereby consumers are increasingly opting for a vegetarian diet.

From farm to fork

The new minor covers the entire plant-based foodchain, ‘from farm to fork’. Students come from HAS study programmes Animal Husbandry & Animal Care, Food Technology, Food Innovation, Horticulture & Arable Farming and Applied Biology. They are joined by HAN students from the study programme Food & Dietetics).

Minor Plant(w)aardige Voeding HAS University of Applied Sciences

Introduction to the chain

The students work in multidisciplinary teams on various projects. Vegetable producer, HAK, is supporting the programme with 2 projects on which 8 students will be working on over the coming weeks: ‘The effect of climate on summer vegetables’ and ‘The Dutch brown bean’. During the first week of the minor, HAK will give students a brief introduction to the entire chain: from growing and harvesting, through to the production process. Students will be treated to a tour of the HAK factory and a cookery workshop. In addition to HAK, other businesses contributing to the minor include Schouten Europe, market leader in meat substitutes, and food products testing institute, NIZO. These and other partners will support the minor in the form of various study projects.

A plant-based future

“It was high time for a study programme focussed completely on plant-based nutrition. We can’t avoid the issue any longer: plants are the future,” according to Carry van Dijk and her 4 fellow HAS lecturers. “In 2050 the global population will have grown to over 12 billion people. Feeding such a large population will simply no longer be possible with just animal-based protein. Plant-based proteins will play a much greater role as they are more than able to offer a full substitute for animal-based proteins. This has implications for the entire chain: from seed trader to consumer. This is why we’re delighted that, together with partners like HAK, we’re able to train students to work as specialists in various parts of the plant-based proteins chain.”

Changing eating habits

HAK too is pleased to be able to take part in the new HAS minor. CEO, Timo Hoogeboom explains: “Over the coming years there will be an increase in demand for food technologists and agricultural specialists with knowledge of the entire plant-based food chain. We have part of this knowledge in-house, for example regarding how to make the consumption of vegetables and legumes easy and tasty. And in addition to sharing this knowledge with a younger generation, our company is also  particularly interested in hearing how students in 2017 see  all the rapid changes in our eating habits.”

Encouraging the consumption of plant-based proteins

The idea for the cooperation between HAS University of Applied Sciences, HAK and Schouten Europe came from within the Green Protein Alliance (GPA). Supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, this alliance, with over 25 members from industry and non-profit organisations, is making it easier to consume plant-based proteins. For everyone; every moment of the day.  Connecting education with entrepreneurship also plays an important role in this. In addition to supporting the minor, HAK will also be giving guest lectures to students as well as offering final year projects for plant-based food, in particular cultivation, product development and sales. The minor will take place mainly in Den Bosch. Student taking this minor will be employed predominantly in the Werkplaats De Gruyter, in the VIBA-Expo in De Gruyter Factory, in Den Bosch.