Planting Value in the Food System

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In an increasingly fractured and dislocated world, food is one thing that should bring us all together. We all need to eat.

Instead, it has become a contentious issue, with implications for our climate change goals, freight systems, public institutions and the way we use land here in the UK and abroad. Food provokes strong reactions, and often ends up dividing communities into competing factions – farmer against conservationist, landowner against housing provider, politician against grassroots activists. We are all ultimately on the same side. We all need to eat.

It has therefore never been more important to be able to reach across ‘traditional’ boundaries, to find common ground with everyone who has a stake in making our food system work for the future. Sometimes the most difficult first step is to sit down round the table with people you don’t agree with.

The Vegan Society has just launched a landmark report:
Planting Value in the Food System

For this project we reached across traditional divides, and got round the table to listen to farmers, food policy experts, NGO’s and more to discuss what our vision for a fair food system looks like.

Visit our microsite to explore the report themes.

The Vegan Society’s position is clear: we want to see an end to animals in our food system. To make that vision a reality, it is vital that we work with organisations across all areas of the current, flawed food system to work out how it can be improved.

This vision is a fair food system for all, including non-human animals, and so this inevitably means a transition to plant-based food and farming. But problems in our food system can’t be looked at in isolation and so our vision is one which is socially and economically just, respects climate and ecological boundaries, supports healthy and nutritious diets and allows people to give food the central value it deserves in our society and culture.

To meet all these multiple objectives for the food system, the report proposes ambitious new legislation. A future Food Sustainability Bill would introduce new legally binding metrics tied to commitments such as the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals, and UK-wide health, economic, ecosystem and social measurements. It would include measures to reduce obesity, food insecurity and child poverty-related malnutrition. It would also set clear goals on the way to achieving animal and climate justice: mandating the government to set targets for reducing the consumption of animals. A Well-being of Future Generations Bill aligning England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with Wales would enable all the governments to act in concert on sustainable development, environment, food, land use, climate and health.

One thing that was clear in this research process was that changes in our food production, diets and food culture require action from right across society - not only at the level of individual food choices, or of national policy. So, we’re calling for all public and private institutions to show leadership and join our pledge to plant value back in the food system:

  1. The goal is Zero Animals. We acknowledge we won’t get there overnight, but we won’t accept half measures.
  2. Everyone is a winner – we all need to eat. A Food Sustainability Bill adds justice to a piecemeal system.
  3. Actions speak louder than words – we need legally mandated targets for reducing the consumption of animals, on the way to achieving animal justice.
  4. Plant based on purpose. We want plant-based options to be the default on menus.

Download the report

Part One: Our Vision explains our proposed legislation and how this can help to achieve a positive future for food.
Part Two: The Research contains the extensive research behind these ideas.
Policy Briefing provides a short summary of the work and the proposed legislation.

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