It all started with a Fresian horse, she says. “I lived near the coast and I had my horse and I loved it. Not only him, but all the animals. I was the typical girl who loved animals and all my family thought it was just a phase”. Well, it wasn’t as we can see in Natascha Kooiman’s life advocating and guiding people away from animal based diets.
After many years working in communications and as a brand strategist in several NGOs, Natascha started noticing that everyone around her was talking about sustainability, “but after the meetings, they were all going out to eat animal-based meals. It made no sense to me, because I knew already how unsustainable eating animals is.”
So, she decided to take action and started her own impactful project: Smaackmakers, a consultant organization dedicated to inspire and guide caterers, hospitality, food and non-food companies, government and educational institutions to lower their ‘food print’ lowering the environmental impact of what their employees and collaborators eat.
How to make change?
“The protein transition agenda is something that is gaining strength”, says Natascha while she talks passionately about her work in Smaackmakers and also as part of the Sustainable Food System Programme of the United Nations and the Transition Coalition Voedsel, in The Netherlands.
She strongly believes that more and more people are becoming aware of the impact food has in the environment and that change is starting to happen. “Everything is interconnected and everything will change when more people get the guts to contribute and not only take. We have to see that we live together: people and Earth. We have to find a new way”.
In Smaackmakers, Natascha advises and guide different companies and organizations to adopt a more sustainable food system. They go step-by-step infusing enthusiasm in all the layers of the company to turn this new conscience about the impact of what they eat into action. “It is a very sensitive issue, because you influence the culture, what they have always had”.
In the Food Transition Coalition, her latest enterprise in The Netherlands, she joined other Dutch leaders in the world of agriculture, food, nature and health and they are working on new solutions for the current agricultural and food system that are becoming increasingly ecological, social and economic. They are generating knowledge and skills to make the transition and follow what they call are “Ten principles of sustainable food”.
Adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights, and community well-being.Earth Charter. Principle 7.
“I met the Earth Charter a few years ago, thanks to my colleague Veronique, who was the director in my former work. She cares a lot about the world and she saw a natural link between my work, the SDGs and the Earth Charter. For me, the EC is the frontrunner of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)”.
“I love the spiritual approach the EC has and how it connects everything, especially the connection with the Earth and how it guides you to make this connection more concrete.”
In her life, Natascha feels that her life and work relate very much with the first and second pillars of the Earth Charter. “To be specific, I feel very close to Principle 1: Respect Earth and life in all its diversity. And also, Pillar 2 which is all about Ecological Integrity, especially Principles 7 and 8 that asks us to adopt sustainable patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction; and to openly share the knowledge that we acquire”.