The Course of Action for Plant-based Gastronomy—Our World in 2050

Group Executive
Hitoshi Sugiura

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has led to drastic changes in today’s lifestyles and habits, and there is a sense throughout society that we have entered a new phase.

At the same time, we are also beginning to feel the impacts of worldwide social issues such as global warming in our daily lives.
For example, in addition to torrential downpours becoming the norm in recent years, every year we are seeing typhoons of record-breaking scale. We are also experiencing major changes elsewhere, with declining fish catches, seasonal changes, and poor harvests of previously stable vegetables and other crops.
As civilization has advanced and the quality of our lifestyles has improved, unknowingly, we have also been causing huge damage to the global environment.
Further, with a global population explosion on the horizon, some say that we will require two earths if we are to continue with our current way of life.
Against this backdrop, countries across the world are coming up with diverse ideas to tackle these environmental issues, engaging in various initiatives to rebuild the planet.

In gastronomy, eating is the common denominator among people worldwide that is essential to sustaining life. I believe that food can provide one solution to these environmental issues, and have realized the importance of promoting and developing environmentally friendly lifestyles through food. A plant-based diet is one solution that can have an effective outcome for the global environment.

This plant-based diet has been closely related to the Japanese diet since ancient times.
One example is shojin ryori, a vegetable-based Buddhist cuisine, which is a key part of Japanese food culture. Shojin ryori was first introduced to Japan in the 13th century. A lack of logistics at the time meant that individuals would source local, seasonal ingredients themselves, only taking the necessary amount to ensure harmony with nature and show their appreciation for nature’s blessings. This was a self-sufficient, sustainable way of life.
This ancient approach can help us rethink the gluttony in modern society.

My hope is to promote lifestyles that can have a positive effect on both health and the environment. With the knowledge that I can help people improve the environment in a stress-free manner through dining, whether at home or restaurants, I have therefore taken action. One initiative that I have developed for society is the 1,000 Vegan Project, through which we aimed to switch from regular meals to vegan meals at 1,000 locations nationwide. From Wakkanai in Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa Prefecture in the south, we worked with various companies to provide more than 100,000 vegan meals, contributing to society through people- and environment-friendly food.

Moreover, working with chefs to host restaurant events showcasing vegan food, we are engaged in activities to promote plant-based food as part of regular menus. We are also continuously working with food companies to drive the shift toward plant-based meals through product development.

I have already seen how food-based solutions can transform our notions of food and in turn lead to even greater achievements, and I believe that food has the potential to lead the globe toward sustainability. I hope to change awareness through the medium of food, which is essential for everyone’s survival irrespective of nationality, race, religion, or any other trait. I look forward to creating a society full of delicious foods from the world of plant-based gastronomy. How wonderful it would be to be able to help rebuild our beautiful planet by applying this mindset on a global scale.

To make this a reality, I have come up with three key elements that are essential to creating food-based solutions, collectively naming them as “Future Recipes to Rebuild Food Ahead of 2050”.
These geo gastronomy recipes are paramount to creating a sustainable future for food ahead of 2050. On February 19, 2022, the recipes were broadcast from the Space Center as a declaration of our intent.

1. Locality and Technology
Fusing technology with historical local gastronomy to analyze ingredients from mountains, seas, and lands—from macroanalysis of the earth from a space perspective to microanalysis of local ingredient genomes—to create people- and environment-friendly, circular recipes for the future.

2. Carrying Forward the Expertise of Our Ancestors
Learning from the expertise of our ancestors who have created a circular society from the dawn of humanity to the present day and reexamining local cuisine. Also, focusing on the possibilities of natural microorganisms in fermentation and maturation processes for long-term preservation.

3. Food Innovation
Transforming food loss and waste into value through new food innovation recipes. (In addition to the food-supply crisis caused by drastic population increases, approximately one third of food produced globally is said to go to waste.)

The idea is that these “recipes” become keywords so that humanity can coexist with nature to drive the creation of circular economies. Ultimately, circular economies around the world will create a more beautiful earth in 2050.

As we work to create a brighter tomorrow ahead of 2050, I believe that plant-based gastronomy is not far away from becoming a global movement.
It’s important to learn how our small social contributions through food can help to create a better world for the future. I will continue to work with various individuals worldwide to achieve a sustainable society.

ONODERA GROUP Group Executive
Hitoshi Sugiura