Less meat and more plant-based food key to climate neutrality by 2050
Food awareness organisation, ProVeg International, has today responded to a Recommendation by the European Commission on how Europe will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2040 on its road to climate neutrality by 2050.
The Recommendation published this week does not specifically mention meat reduction or clear emissions reductions targets from agriculture.
However, ProVeg notes that the Impact Assessment upon which the Recommendation is based acknowledges that tackling meat consumption is a key to reducing emissions.
“There is a growing body of research which is filtering into policy documents highlighting the significant impact of shifting towards more plant-centric diets to address the climate crisis”, Lucia Hortelano, EU Senior Policy Manager at ProVeg, said.
“The Commission’s Impact Assessment makes this clear too and we would have liked to have seen this message transferred into the final Recommendation. But, in its absence, we hope policymakers will heed the advice and ensure political efforts are made to promote plant-based diets wherever possible, be that through more research funding, inclusion of plant-based milk in schools or a shift in subsidies towards the production of ingredients for plant-based products,” Hortelano said.
Specifically, the Impact Assessment states that the reduction of meat consumption and consequent shift to more plant-based diets “generates significant co-benefits for air quality, since it reduces methane emissions, a short-lived climate forcer but also a precursor of ozone, and ammonia emissions”.
“Hence, an increase in plant-based diets in the EU is improving human health both directly through more healthy diets and indirectly through cleaner air, which creates economic benefits from improved human health that would compensate for some part of the economic losses in the agricultural sector,” the Impact Assessment states.
The Impact Assessment also states that public consultation has revealed that 82% of EU citizens have said they are willing to “adopt new lifestyles and to adopt a variety of individual actions to reduce their own carbon footprint”. “As an example,” the report states, “a high share of EU citizens indicated their inclination in the public consultation to eat food with a lower climate impact, such as plant-based, local, or sustainably produced food”.
In fact, EU citizens are already choosing to reduce their meat consumption, as ProVeg found out when it conducted a survey through the EU-funded Smart Protein project.
The pan-European survey, called “Evolving appetites: an in-depth look at European attitudes towards plant-based eating” found that 51% of meat eaters in Europe claim they are actively reducing their annual meat consumption, up from 46% in 2021.
“The Commission’s advice on reducing meat consumption goes hand-in-hand with what we already know about consumer eating habits in the EU,” Hortelano said.
“The people of the EU have an appetite for change and they are taking action themselves through their own dietary choices,” she added.
Notes to Editors
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About ProVeg International
ProVeg International is a food awareness organisation with the mission to replace 50% of animal products globally with plant-based and cultivated foods by 2040. Our vision is a world where everyone chooses delicious and healthy food that is good for all humans, animals, and our planet.