The Vegan Society responds to independent review commissioned by government, which includes recommendations for reduction in meat consumption and government investment in alternative proteins.
The Vegan Society welcomes the National Food Strategy, released today, as a long overdue overarching approach, bringing urgently needed direction and coherence to food policy in the UK. The society calls for a bold and ambitious approach when it comes to dietary shifts away from animal products and calls for the government to bring forward its policy response as a priority. They must be held to the 6-month deadline for a White Paper as outlined by the National Food Strategy.
In response to the National Food Strategy acknowledgement that meat consumption in the UK needs to come down, chief executive of The Vegan Society, Louise Davies, said: “Targets for meat and dairy reduction are essential for meeting our climate targets. We can be ambitious - the plant-based movement is rapidly growing: people want to eat meat-alternatives, for ethical, health and environment reasons, and they need government intervention to make this the most affordable and accessible option. It’s no longer acceptable for the government to ignore what we eat when it comes to the climate crisis”.
The Vegan Society agree that novel alternatives to meat such as those based on algae and mycoproteins should be a part of the approach to meat reduction, as should other plant-based meat alternatives. However, diets based on fruit, vegetables and wholegrains – including pulses like lentils, beans and peas – are highly sustainable and healthy. We must not lose sight of this as a central objective for food policy. The society welcomes the proposal for investment in plant-based alternatives – a level playing field is essential in order to support the vital transition.
Poor diet is a leading cause of lifestyle related mortality, on a par with smoking, and less than a third of us reach our recommended 5-a-day for fruit and vegetables. The Vegan Society welcomes new schemes to promote fruit and vegetables but it’s vital that these are comprehensive enough to address the scale of the problem we face and ensure marginalised groups can access them.
This is not the first time advisory bodies have asked the government to act to enable dietary change - the UK Committee on Climate Change has made reducing consumption of meat and dairy central to its recommendations to government – but has been ignored. This can’t happen this time, the government must take bold action on diets.
The Vegan Society’s new report – Planting Value in the Food System
The UK’s National Food Strategy is based on the idea that fixing problems in the food system requires joined up thinking. This idea of a coherent food policy designed to address multiple objectives - rather than one at the expense of others - is the starting point of a new piece of research commissioned by The Vegan Society, Planting Value in the Food System.
The report was written by Dr Alex Lockwood, Senior Lecturer at the University of Sunderland, in consultation with The Vegan Society policy team. It consists of two parts, the first proposes far reaching new legislation to put our food system on a different path, and the second contains extensive research which these proposals are based on.
It proposes two major pieces of legislation including a Food Sustainability Bill and a Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill for the whole UK.
The first would bring in legally binding targets for government in a range of areas such as health, food poverty and climate justice. These would include targets to reduce consumption of animal products, putting the UK on a course to remove animals from the food system.
This Bill would also mandate the formation of a National Food Sustainability Council to oversee the principles and targets needed to overhaul the current food system. It suggests this Council could be the ‘new independent body’ described in Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy Part 1.
The aim of the second is to align the rest of the UK with Wales and go further, enabling the UK to act on sustainable development, environment, food, land use, climate and health in terms of future needs.
Parliamentarians meet to discuss food policy today
At 2pm today parliamentarians will gather to hear The Vegan Society’s views on the National Food Strategy at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vegetarianism and Veganism.
The meeting, which is taking place via Zoom, will also focus on Planting Value in the Food System and feature the report’s author, Dr Alex Lockwood, The Vegan Society’s CEO Louise Davies; Dr Helen Harwatt, a senior research fellow in the Energy, Environment and Resources programme at Chatham House; and Alexandra Clarke, an advisor at Veg Capital. They will be asking: What should vegans and vegetarians hope for from the National Food Strategy? What do we want the food system of the future to look like? And what changes are needed to move it in the right direction?
To find out more and to register for the APPG please visit: https://vegappg.org.uk. The meeting will be held between 2-3pm.