A coalition of U.K health experts says people should eat more plant-based protein to help the planet and human health.
The comments came in a report by the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC). Authors called the report All-consuming: Building A Healthier Food System For People And Planet.
It offers a raft of other proposals on cutting food emissions like a meat tax. They also included ideas like ending buy-one-get-one-free offers on unhealthy food that is bad for the planet. Another was adding climate info labels on food.
The report points out that 20 percent of the U.K’s emissions result from food production and consumption. It adds ‘half of these are related to imports (largely through feed crops and the related deforestation), rather than the food that we produce here’.
“As well as shifting to more sustainable food production, we will need to substantially reduce – by 50 percent – the amount of food lost and wasted along the food supply chain, from production to consumption,” it adds.
It’s important to note that ‘as the biggest driver of deforestation, agriculture therefore has a significant impact on the planet’s ability to capture and sequester atmospheric carbon’.
Therefore, red meat consumption must be slashed in half ‘if the food system is to stay within sustainable environmental limits’.
Publish health is also a concern. The reports adds there’s ‘clear evidence’ that replacing animal protein with plant-based protein could improve public health. It says red meat reduction is linked to lower rates of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and overall death rates’.
When it comes to the meat tax suggestion, the report says: “Fiscal incentives have proven effective in changing behavior and the so-called ‘Sugar Tax’ demonstrates that it is possible to develop such mechanisms in relation to food.
“The Government should signal that it intends to move in this direction if voluntary action on the full climate impact of food products is not taken by the food industry by 2025, with a food carbon tax to be levied on all food producers according to the carbon footprint of their products.”
Kristin Bash, a co-author of the UKHACC report, said: “We can’t reach our goals without addressing our food system.
“The climate crisis isn’t something we should see as far in the future. It’s time to take these issues seriously now.”
Acacia Smith is policy manager for food system NGO The Good Food Institute Europe.
She said: “This authoritative report is absolutely right to call for increased consumption of plant-based proteins to tackle climate change and improve people’s health.”
However, she said, the government must invest in plant-based alternatives like meat, dairy and more. Consumers should not bear the sole responsibility.
She added: “These products deliver the flavors and textures people are used to, with better health outcomes and a fraction of the environmental impact.”