Seven universities of applied sciences, seven vocational (mbo) schools, two municipalities, JOGG (Youth at a Healthy Weight), Jong Leren Eten, Flevo Campus, MBO Platform Sport and Healthy Lifestyle, and the Nutrition Center (het Voedingscentrum) kicked off the research project 'Mbo Students in Action for Plant-Based Food' at the Mbo school Yuverta in Den Bosch on January 26. At the heart of the project are Mbo students: their perceptions of plant-based food, their consumption of plant-based food, and the solutions they themselves propose to increase the consumption of plant-based food.

Mbo-students in action

The research project spans two years and has a dual objective. "Firstly, we aim to gain more knowledge about the thoughts and behaviors of vocational education students when making food choices," explains Antien Zuidberg, lecturer at the HAS Green Academy and project leader. "We focus specifically on plant-based food. Secondly, we challenge the vocational education students themselves to devise solutions that raise awareness among their peers about the option of choosing plant-based foods and encourage them to make this choice."

Need for more knowledge among young adults

Antien continues: "We know that we need to consume less animal-based food, both for our health and for the climate. The need to support and motivate people to consume more plant-based foods is significant. There is relatively little knowledge about how young adults make food choices. Moreover, they are in a unique situation: transitioning from living at home to living independently, developing new food routines. Developing this knowledge is the aim of the project."

Challenge-based learning motivates students

From behavioral science, it is known that motivation, knowledge, skills, and the environment are important drivers for behavioral change. Therefore, the project actively involves vocational education students in the research and utilizes 'challenge-based learning.' Antien explains: "The students are challenged to investigate the issue themselves and come up with solutions. This motivates them to exhibit the desired behavior themselves and to pass it on to their peers."

Research in four regions

Additionally, this project presents a unique opportunity to conduct a widely supported research project involving both universities of applied sciences and vocational schools. This will take place in four Dutch regions: Brabant, South Holland, the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region, and the North. Both vocational and university students will contribute to the project. Professionally related challenges will be set within vocational education programs. University students will undertake internships and graduation assignments within the project. "In this way, we are bridging the gap between university and vocational education research," says Antien.


In the research project 'Vocational Education Students in Action for Plant-Based Food' (MAP), The Hague University of Applied Sciences collaborates with the following partners:

HAS Green Academy, Aeres University of Applied Sciences Almere, Inholland University of Applied Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Koning Willem 1 College, Yuverta, Aeres Vocational Education Almere, MBO Westland, MBO College Lelystad, Vista College, Alfa College, Firda, municipalities of Almere and Súdwest Fryslân, JOGG, Young Learning Eating, Flevo Campus, MBO Platform Sport and Healthy Lifestyle, and the Nutrition Center (het Voedingscentrum).

The project is funded by the SIA coordinating agency and by the Ministries of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, and Health, Welfare, and Sport. The project is also part of the CoE Green, a collaboration between the HAS Green Academy, Aeres University of Applied Sciences, Inholland University of Applied Sciences, and Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences.

From the Centre of Expertise Health Innovation, Machteld van Lieshout ( and Wendy Scholtes-Bos ( are involved. 

From the Centre of Expertise Digital Operations & Finance, Hongli Joosten-Ma ( and Patricia Bulsing ( are contributing to the project.