The government’s Farm to Fork Summit failed to address the urgent need to transition to a plant-based food system and make the British food supply chain more self-sufficient, says the Vegan Society.
In the first meeting of its kind, the government’s Farm to Fork Summit saw farmers, food producers and representatives from major UK supermarkets come together on May 16 to discuss how government and industry can work together to support the UK food industry.
Cost of production, food affordability and the environmental impact of agriculture are major concerns within the industry, whilst recent falls in domestic production have seen concerns rise around food security and Britain’s self-sufficiency. The Farm to Fork Summit has been criticised for failing to meaningfully address these issues, many of which can be addressed with a move away from resource-heavy industrial farming and animal agriculture.
The Vegan Society has called repeatedly for leadership from the UK government in a transition to plant-based farming. With the industrial farming of animals being the most polluting and resource-intensive way to produce food, investment in plant-based food systems is vital in order to meet climate reduction targets and improve food security.
Expressing disappointment at the government’s failure to acknowledge the environmentally damaging impacts of the animal agriculture industry, Claire Ogley, Head of Campaigns, Policy and Research at the Vegan Society, said:
“It was disappointing to see this summit missed the opportunity to acknowledge the need to transition to a plant-based food system. Global and national institutions are calling for a move away from meat and dairy to achieve net zero climate targets. The government has ignored recommendations from its own experts to set a target for reducing the consumption of meat and dairy, despite the undeniable links between animal farming and environmental damage.
Much more is needed to support our world-leading innovative plant-based protein industry in the UK and to level the playing field for these businesses, ensuring they are not subject to unfair restrictions. Our Planting Value in the Food System report sets out how the British food supply could be a lot more self-sufficient if more of our land was re-purposed to grow crops for human consumption, particularly pulses, instead of supporting damaging and inefficient meat and dairy industries.”
As an integral part of both our economy and well-being, the food system must work fairly for everyone. Food policy needs to improve the experiences of farmers and food producers whilst also respecting the rights and freedoms of animals. Deep-rooted changes must be made at every level to create a unified food system with coherent links to economics, health, and environmental policy and the government must address this urgently.
For further information on how we can successfully shift to plant-based food systems, visit The Vegan Society’s Grow Green campaign pages and download our Planting Value in Our Food System report.