The need to review our relationship with the natural world and the global food system has never been more pressing. ProVeg welcomes a compelling new report from the The Vegan Society in New Zealand, which explores what a roadmap to food system transformation might look like – a key strategy in fighting the climate crisis.
Focusing on New Zealand, a country heavily reliant on animal agriculture, The Green Protein Report looks at why food production and consumption need to be reassessed. It asks key questions, such as how can a food system transition take place? And where do meat and dairy fit? Ongoing research in this area has urgent global relevance and importance for the sustainability of our planet.
A transition benefits the environment, health and animals
The dominance of animal agriculture and its negative effects are being felt acutely in New Zealand. Mass deforestation, river pollution, soil erosion, the decimation of native wildlife, and one of the highest methane emissions per capita, are all causes for concern. The report calls for the government to offer encouragement and support to farmers wishing to move away from meat and dairy production.
As in much of the Western world, the average diet in New Zealand is rich in animal products. This contributes to an increase in obesity, heart attacks, certain types of cancer and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The report cites evidence that a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of these common lifestyle diseases; it calls for better access to plant-based food in New Zealand’s public buildings, schools, hospitals and prisons, as a strategy for improving public health.
As well as the environmental and health benefits of transitioning to a more plant-based food system, the report highlights the benefits to animal welfare that this would bring. Due to a heavy reliance on animal products, there are currently over 160 million farmed animals in New Zealand, and the country has been ranked only 30th out of 50 for animal welfare standards (Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index, 2017).
Clean, green and innovative
New Zealand upholds a ‘clean and green’ image across the world, but how the country responds to current agricultural threats and opportunities will be crucial in maintaining this. ‘The Green Protein Report’ offers a detailed action plan for New Zealand to transform its food system, showing how much profit is to be made from plant-based foods, and how much healthier citizens could be.
ProVeg is pleased to see new strategies for reducing our global reliance on animal agriculture, which align with our mission to reduce the consumption of animal products by 50% by the year 2040. We plan to achieve this using a variety of impactful activities, including influencing policy change and shaping the future of food.
It will require innovative societal shifts, but there are alternative ways for all of us to farm and produce food, and no time to waste if the Paris Agreement goals are to be met.
Smart Protein is a four-year, €9.6 million collaborative project with the aim of developing highly innovative, protein-rich food products such as meat, fish, and cheese from plant-based raw materials.