The case for a shift from animal protein to plant protein diets is clear. Many reports have documented the health, environmental, and ethical benefits from doing so but stop short of explaining why this transition has failed to take place and what policies could spark that change.
Our second report in the Grow Green series tackles the question of ‘how’ by analysing the barriers to producing protein crops in the UK. These barriers are complex, interwoven, and exist at different levels of the food system, or sometimes run through it altogether.
From these barriers, a set of policy recommendations emerge in six different areas, specifically:
- Subsidies: Create a Protein Aid Scheme
- Entry: Make protein crops a focus of a new farm entry scheme
- Research: Designate funding for protein crops and boosting yields
- Taxes: Implement a farmed animal tax
- Public procurement: Encourage the serving of plant proteins in public canteens
- Decision-making processes: Consult on policy with a wider range of stakeholders.
These policies should be supported by a Defra vision document outlining the goals for the expansion of protein crop cultivation and consumption in the UK with targets attached to the major policy aims.
Besides promoting protein crops, these policies also have the potential to address a number of pressing issues in UK agriculture at present. An increase in research funding is linked to productivity growth, which has stalled in the UK. An entry scheme can help address the decline in the number of farms and farm labour. Implementing a farmed animal tax would lower the net government contribution to agriculture and help create a more sustainable funding model. Public procurement can help inform consumers and connect them to their food, while a wider stakeholder consultation process can be coupled with efforts to address the lack of power and agency felt in many rural communities.
Many of these proposals are bold and would put the UK at the forefront of countries leading the way for sustainable food systems. By embracing this boldness, the Government can show that rather than Brexit creating a race to the bottom in standards, the UK will act as a role model in this space for other countries to follow.
To arrange a meeting to discuss these proposals, please email: campaigns[at]vegansociety[dot]com.
Read about plant protein success stories from around the world, demonstrating that it is possible to successfully grow crops for human consumption without animal inputs.