Portret Marcel van der Heijden - Plant FWD
© Merel Tuk
Bring yourself

Pioneering the global Protein Shift

In Amsterdam, a movement is brewing - a movement towards a more sustainable and plant-based future led by innovative thinkers like Marcel van der Heijden, co-founder of Plant FWD.

Bring yourself, Marcel will do the same

Marcel van der Heijden is co-founder of Plant FWD in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam has long been a beacon of innovation, fostering creativity across various industries, from design and fashion to technology and sustainability. As Marcel explains, “An enormous pool of innovative and creative talent exists in Amsterdam. If you are surrounded by companies playing Champions League soccer, there’s an instinctive “pressure” to keep playing at that level. So, for us, being surrounded by such an inventive ecosystem naturally resonates to aim higher.”

How to make an impact in the world

Marcel van der Heijden en Tom Duijn - Plant FWD

Plant FWD is emblematic of this spirit of innovation. The concept was born out of a conversation between Marcel and his co-founders, Maartje Nelissen and Tom van Duijn, on a scorching hot day in September 2022 while relaxing on a terrace in Amsterdam. Recognizing the monumental impact of food waste and the potential of plant-based diets, they set out to create something that didn't exist—a platform to accelerate the shift towards more plant-based proteins. “This does not mean eating 100% plant-based food. No, we need to make plant-based food a bigger part of our overall diet. That would actually make the biggest impact and we thought, okay, we can do something with this.” 

From there, the idea for Plant FWD was born and the founders consciously chose to start with an event, because it’s very tangible and a way to connect like-minded people in the plant-based protein space. “In April 2023, we held our first event attended by over 750 change-makers from retailers, brands, start-ups, talents and policy makers. The event took place at Theatre Amsterdam, one of the city's newest and most sustainable venues.” 

We are not just about shifting dietary choices—it's about systemic change.

Accelerating change with every bite

Portret Marcel van der Heijden - Plant FWD

Plant FWD is a platform to help companies work together and accelerate the protein shift. As Marcel explains “Currently people eat roughly 40% plant-based proteins and 60% animal proteins. We know that people will not change overnight from 40% to 100% plant- based. Therefore, the goal of Plant FWD is to help increase the consumption of plant-based proteins to at least to 60% by 2030. We need to take this transition step-by-step if we want to involve everybody and keep them on board”. 

Connecting the dots

Portret Marcel van der Heijden - Plant FWD

Marcel emphasizes that Plant FWD’s direction is to be a connector and an enabler, “We are not just about shifting dietary choices—it's about systemic change. By collaborating with municipalities like Amsterdam and leveraging the city's status as a commercial hub, we’re helping to drive the plant-based protein transition forward not just in the Netherlands, but internationally.” Plant FWD is creating the links, connecting various parties and helping all to realize a global shift towards this form of sustainability. 

Historically, Amsterdam has always been a commercial and trading hub and the plant-based protein shift now occupies a pivotal role in its landscape. This transition extends beyond the Dutch borders as countries like Israel, Canada, Denmark, and the US are also actively engaged in this international movement. “We would like to see Amsterdam as the bridge, connecting these efforts and ensuring the city remains at the forefront of sustainable progress.”

One step at a time

Portret Marcel van der Heijden - Plant FWD

Looking ahead, Marcel envisions Plant FWD expanding its footprint beyond Amsterdam, with events and communities in cities like Paris, London, and Barcelona. It's a vision fuelled by optimism and a belief in the power of collective action. "Every step in this transition, no matter how small, brings us closer to a more sustainable future for all. Of course, there are challenges but let's stay positive and move forward together!”