We may remember 2019 as a year in which conversations about the environment, climate change and meat became mainstream. But Brexit dominated our political dialogue.
Our last chance
2019 began following the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in late 2018. The IPCC set out that to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5C this century, emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be cut by 45% by 2030. The report was clear that action is needed now, on a global, Government and individual scale and quickly. We are now on a countdown of ten years to improve everything from how we travel to what we eat.
Signals of change in 2019
- Awareness of livestock’s environmental impacts is growing. In 2019 38% people were aware, compared to 31% in 2017.
- 63% of 11-18-year olds said the environment and climate change was one of their most important issues for the country. The environment and climate change was ahead of the UK leaving the EU (54%) and healthcare (42%).
- 25% of 18-year olds have become vegetarian or vegan. This is much higher than the 7% of adults surveyed earlier in the year who said they don’t eat meat and higher than any other age group in the 11- 18 year old category.
- Demand has grown for vegan and vegetarian options since 2018. 2019 brought a series of high-profile options, that seem to be working commercially for retailers. However, we hear that it’s not leading to any reductions in meat sales…yet.
2019 the year of consensus around the need for less meat
In 2019 discussions around eating less meat have been centre to debate in the media around climate action? But this media attention has further polarised the discussion, many would say purposefully.
The Eating Better alliance has aligned a range of civil society organisations with backgrounds in farming health, environment and animal welfare. Pasture Fed Livestock Association, Nature Friendly Farming Network and the Royal Society for Public Health have joined long time alliance organisations such as Compassion in World Farming, Friends of the Earth and the World Wildlife Foundation. Organisations with different expertise are now working together to accelerate action towards healthy and sustainable diets.
2020 should be the year where discussions about the need for less meat and dairy are finally put to bed and widespread attention moves to championing better production systems.
A powerful alliance with a shared goal of less and better meat and dairy
We were pleased to work with alliance organisations to identify 24 actions across 5 sectors to reduce meat and dairy consumption in the UK by 50% by 2030 and transform what’s left to better forms of production.
We called this the Better by Half: roadmap, because it is:
- better for you and your health
- better for the countryside and environment
- better for animal welfare
2020 is ripe for the UK to show global leadership
2020 is the year for the UK to step up and show global leadership for food, farming and environment. The eyes of the world will be on the UK for the UN climate change summit, COP 26 in Glasgow.
Our wishes for 2020 are for:
- A National Food Strategy that connects policies that impact food and farming across government. The strategy should contain an explicit commitment to less and better meat and dairy and healthy, sustainable diets.
- Retailers to put sustainable diets at the heart of their commercial strategies and accept that continuing to grow meat and dairy sales is not a strategy fit for the future.
- Public sector procurement of food to set the gold standard for sustainable diets. We want to see food served in schools and hospitals packed with vegetables, pulses, seeds and less and better meat from British farmers. Farmers and food service companies say they can deliver when the demand is there.
- Farmers to be incentivised and supported to transition to better farming practices, which will deliver public benefits for health, environment, biodiversity, animal welfare, pollution control and climate resilience.
- Any future trade deals to be assessed on their impact on UK farming communities, health and the environment.
Eating Better alliance organisations will be focused on driving these actions in 2020 and looking forward to working with others.