'A shift towards plant-based diets would deliver up to around a 73% reduction in diet-related emissions'

An expert from Imperial College London says 'diet has been neglected by climate policy' - and has promoted the shift towards eating plant-based

Dr. Richard Carmichael made the statement in the Behaviour change, public engagement and Net Zero report -prepared for the Committee on Climate Change, which advises ministers how to cut the country's carbon footprint.

A plant-based diet delivers 'large health benefits' (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

A plant-based diet delivers 'large health benefits' (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

The report recommends all public-sector catering menus include at least one fully plant-based option that is available to everyone every day to 'improve access to lower-impact foods.

It also says funding needs to be given to provide financial support for equipping kitchen facilities for additional plant-based food preparation where needed, and for developing food technology for plant-based meat and dairy replacements. 

'Large health benefits'

"In countries with high per-capita meat consumption, like the UK, a shift towards plant-based diets would deliver up to around a 73 percent reduction in diet-related emissions compared to current levels and would require 70-80 percent less farmland," the report reads.

"Shifting to more sustainable diets, with reduced meat and dairy and more plant-based proteins and foods, offers a huge opportunity for consumers to reduce their personal carbon footprints with no additional cost and would also deliver large health benefits and NHS cost savings to society."

'Financial incentives'

The report also pushes for financial incentives to be applied to high GHG-impact foods in a bid to 'incentivize shifts to lower-impact production practices'. 

"Price signals should leverage validated data used for mandatory environmental impact labeling (rather than food types, e.g., beef) and should be introduced after this data and labeling infrastructure is established.

"Financial incentives should be applied in the first instance through rebalancing existing EU farm subsidies post-Brexit, 69-79 percent of which go to support fodder and livestock production."

You can read the full report here