The new food strategy for England, commissioned by the Government, spells out in detail the damage that the current food and livestock system causes to the environment, as well as to our health. It is the greatest destroyer of nature and one of the main sources of global warming, the document maintains.
The report points to the excessive consumption of meat. “Our current appetite for meat is unsustainable,” he says. “85% of farmland is used to feed livestock and we need to reclaim some of that land.”
That 85% of the land provides only 32% of the calories we eat, he says: “By contrast, 15% of the farmland that is used to grow plants for human consumption provides 68% of our calories.” . The report also addresses the myth that grass-fed cattle are greener. “The more intensive the farming of some animals, the more carbon efficient it tends to be.”
The strategy recommends reducing meat consumption by 30% in a decade. If accepted by the government, it would be a world leading target. However, while consistent with the advice of official government advisers, the so-called Committee on Climate Change, many scientific studies have concluded that much larger cuts are needed in wealthy and western nations if the climate crisis is to be curbed.
An important analysis concludes that Europeans and North Americans must reduce meat consumption by 80% so that your diet is climate-friendly and healthy. Another said that it was necessary to reduce 90% beef consumption to beat global warming. According to some researchers, avoiding meat and dairy products is the best way to reduce environmental impact in the planet.
The report proposes that the 30% target be achieved through “incentives” to behavior and the substitution of meat for vegetable alternatives, ruling out a tax on meat. Food is deeply ingrained in culture, and Environment Secretary George Eustice said in June that lecturing people about their diets is the wrong approach. The false claims in the United States that Joe Biden wanted to ban beef burgers show the dangers.
“The report avoids recommending decisive policies that help citizens reduce their meat consumption, highlighting public opposition to meat taxes. However, its own poll indicates that 75% of respondents support or do not oppose it. taxes on some meats, “says Marco Springmann of the University of Oxford.
“Behavioral science suggests that specific dietary changes are unlikely to be achieved without comprehensive measures, including tax incentives and mandates,” he says, along with clear recognition by policy makers of the harm that meat causes.
In November, UK health professionals called for a meat tax. A WWF-UK survey released on Thursday also shows that nearly 80% of people believe that the government is responsible for ensuring that healthy and environmentally friendly food is cheap and readily available.
The change is happening anyway, as most people accept that they should eat less meat, be it for environmental, health or animal welfare reasons. Public sector providers that serve billions of meals a year in schools, universities, hospitals and residences pledged in April 2020 to reduce the amount of meat they serve by 20%.
Younger consumers and farmers are leading the way from feasting on meat to producing greener food and reclaiming the land. The government is also offering incentives for older farmers to retire.
The question is whether this generational handover will be fast enough to slow the acceleration of the climate crisis. The increasing effects of global warming observed around the world suggest that it is not, which means that political action will be necessary.
Leaders have had to win battles over unpopular wind farms, expensive electric cars, and other things. But the beef burger battle may be the toughest of all.