New report: We must switch from animal to plant protein to 'fix broken food system'

3 October 2017

The UK's food system is 'fundamentally broken', according to a report by think tank the New Economics Foundation.

The Grow Green II report, commissioned by The Vegan Society, claims the UK’s food system is also environmentally unsustainable and unhealthy.

It calls on the Government to radically rethink the food we eat and crops we grow, and advises a shake-up in the UK agricultural system as it prepares to leave the European Union.

Action

Key recommendations include implementation of a farmed animal tax and a Protein Aid Scheme for those who grow plant protein crops such as peas, beans, and lentils.

Griffin Carpenter, Senior Researcher at the New Economics Foundation, said: "Our research shows that to supply British diets with food that is sustainable, healthy, affordable, and ethical, protein crops represent a win-win-win-win across all four dimensions. 

"With a major shakeup to farming policy on the horizon, now is the time to create new programmes and incentives for the development of protein crops."

Plant protein

The report argues there is a general lack of knowledge from both producers and consumers about plant protein’s contribution to public health and their low environmental impact.

Louise Davies, Head of Campaigns and Policy at The Vegan Society, said: "The Vegan Society are working in various ways to bring about vegan friendly policy making. 

"Those who farm animals are victims of the system and many want a way out of the industry. The solutions that New Economics Foundation present could help farmers to transition to more compassionate and environmentally friendly farming methods. 

"Encouraging more plant protein agriculture, and a move away from animal agriculture, would be a step towards the vegan future that the animals and our planet so desperately need."

Role model

The report adds that a shake-up would give the UK Government a chance to act as a role model in plant protein agriculture for other countries to follow.

It also warns that delivering a large amount of food to consumers at low prices comes at the expense of almost every other objective that we might reasonably expect from a food system.

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