Woman grasping crops

photo credit @DAFT/Flickr

Earlier this week, Medact joined the likes of Friends of the Earth, Food Ethics Council, Oxfam and the Soil Association as supporting members of the Eating Better Network. Guppi Bola, Medact’s Climate and Ecology Coordinator explains our plans and how they fit nicely into the fair, green, healthy food scene.

It’s been almost a year since the Medact Relaunch Conference, where I joined the likes of Charlie Kronick, Isobel Braithwaite and a room full of Medact members to discuss how we could make waves in the environmental movement. After some tough thinking and thoughtful conversation, it was clear that a focus on the food system would be a good starting point for the health community. So in the last couple of months I’ve been venturing out to discover who’s involved in this vibrant network – and how we as Medact could be an intrical part of it.

All road leads to Rome, supposedly. In the food world it turns out all roads lead to Eating Better! The conclusion to several phone conversations, meet-ups and emails was that we needed to be united with Sue Dibb, who has been leading the network over the last year. Eating Better: for a fair, green, healthy future is a broad alliance working together to help people move towards eating less meat and more food that’s better for us and the planet, as part of the vital task of creating sustainable food and farming systems. It seemed the perfect match for Medact’s adventure into the food campaigning world – and so our partnership begins.

Eating Better celebrated their first birthday this month, and in that year they’ve grown to a network of over 40 supporting organisations and partner networks, secured funding for the next three years and have provided a space for groups working on food from a health, sustainability and fairness angle to come together and collaborate.

Medact are one of the few organisations within the network that approach their work from a health perspective, and so we’re really excited to be a part of this community to learn from others and share in what we know. To kick off our own work, we’ll be focussing on the meat industry; specifically with an aim to help reduce meat consumption in the UK as a contribution towards achieving a more sustainable, just and healthy global food system. This will recognise the need to protect individuals from the health consequences of excessive meat consumption, stem greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation associated with industrialised farming practices, and promote a more pro-poor model of food production worldwide.

Industrialised meat production and intensive livestock farming are major contributors to global GHG emissions and to increasing concerns around antibiotic resistance. Growing levels of meat consumption are also responsible for increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and certain cancers. To add to these concerns, land use for meat production can have negative effects on broader development and poverty-reduction goals through the displacement of communities from their homes and lands, and its impact on local and small-scale agricultural practices. Thus, patterns of meat consumption in the UK can contribute to systems of meat production that are environmentally unsustainable, socially unjust and unhealthy.

As we build this project in the Climate and Ecology programme, we are thankful and excited to be part of Eating Better, and look forward to working with them and the wider community in tackling meat consumption in the UK, for a sustainable, just and health food system.

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