A meaty issue: Nudges not tax needed to cut consumption, food strategy says


eople could be encouraged to eat less meat with investment in alternative proteins that could be used as sustainable options in ready meals, the National Food Strategy suggests.

The report warns meat consumption needs to be cut by 30% by 2030 to reduce methane emissions from cattle and sheep that help drive global warming, and to free up land for absorbing carbon and boosting nature.

While most people recognise the need to reduce meat consumption, the report, which draws on conservations with citizens as part of the process, said a tax to drive the shift away from meat was unpopular.

And it would penalise poorer households because it would hike prices more on cheap cuts or mince, the strategy’s final report said.

Meat-free alternatives to foods such as burgers are becoming more popular (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) / PA Archive

Instead it said the Government should invest £50 million in supporting the development of alternative proteins such as lab-grown meat or plant-based foods, which could create thousands of jobs in factories and farming.

It urged the UK to position itself at the front of the new industry of alternative proteins, which it said could easily replace ingredients such as mince or milk powder in lasagne or even the meat in a takeaway sandwich.

The report comes as supermarkets are already increasing and promoting their plant-based options, and meat-free alternatives are becoming more popular.

It also said Government should also reform buying standards for schools, hospitals and prisons to ensure taxpayers are paying for healthy and sustainable food to be served, and as another nudge towards less meat consumption.

Government investment in innovation will speed up measures to cut methane emissions, such as adding certain ingredients such as seaweed to feed to reduce the amount of the potent greenhouse gas from meat and dairy, the report said.

But cutting methane is not enough, as the UK also needs to free up land for absorbing carbon emissions from other hard-to-tackle sectors such as aviation, by restoring forests or peatlands.

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