Yesterday, Tuesday 2 February, Eating Better – an alliance of nearly 50 organisations, including Medact – launched its asks of Government – to take urgent action on the unsustainable level of meat in our diets for the sake of our health, and the planet.
“With a staggering third of global GHG emissions coming from the food system, 2016 is the year policy makers need to wake up to how food and farming can help us deliver better health for people and the planet”, says the Eating Better Alliance. Meat is typically the most GHG intensive part of our diet, accounting for at least 14.5 per cent of global GHG emissions – as significant as emissions from transport. New research says reducing meat & dairy consumption by half could reduce heart disease and cancers, and cut GHG from EU agriculture by up to 42%.

“2015 ended with an historic climate deal in Paris – to keep global temperature rise below 1.5oC. But we haven’t a hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change if governments continue to ignore the impact of high levels of meat consumption,” says Sue Dibb, coordinator of Eating Better. “A missing trick stares us in the face three times a day – it’s what we’re eating. One vital, simple step is for people in high consuming countries, including the UK, to eat less and better meat and a greater variety of plant-based foods. This will have benefits for our health and the health of our planet.”
Eating Better is calling on policy makers in the UK, devolved administrations and EU to implement policies that help people move towards eating less and better meat and more plant based foods, including:

  • Putting food and agriculture centre-stage in strategies to meet climate change agreements and sustainable development goals.
  • Update the UK’s official dietary guidance – the eatwell plate – and associated advice to integrate sustainability messages including eating less meat.
  • Introduce mandatory procurement standards for caterers to ensure that meals paid for by taxpayers in schools, hospitals, prisons, care homes and all government departments are healthy & sustainable.
  • Support and encourage farming that produces meat in ways that benefit the environment, human health and animal welfare and provides a fair return for farmers.
  • Align UK business growth policy for food and farming with health and sustainability including supporting innovation and growth of a more diverse range of plant-based protein options.
  • End the unnecessary and dangerous routine use of antibiotics in farming.
  • Work with EU institutions and Member States to support Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform to deliver a European Healthy Sustainable Food and Farming Policy.

Eating Better’s policy recommendations were produced in consultation with the alliance’s 47 supporting organisations and partner networks, including Medact. In particular Eating Better’s new policy asks align with the work that Medact is doing around hospital food, antibiotics in farming and sustainable dietary guidelines.

 

Elizabeth Atherton
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