UK politicians are being urged to center veganism within food and farming policies after declaring a national climate emergency.
A slew of recent research shows how adopting a vegan diet can reduce an individual's environmental impact, including Oxford University research, which described the move as the ‘single biggest thing' people could do for the planet.
Now The Vegan Society has written to major political parties, asking them to ‘translate this announcement [about the impending climate crisis] into action' and adopt policies that encourage plant-based diets, offer vegan food in public sector canteens and support farmers in moving away from farming animals.
The society's chief executive has written to the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, UK Parliament, the Scottish National Party and the Welsh Government, stating that increased knowledge and uptake of plant-based foods are required not only for climate change mitigation but for public health too as it can relieve pressure on the NHS.
The letter asks the political parties to take three steps: encourage the nation to adopt an increasingly plant-based diet, implement policies for public sector institutions such as schools, hospitals and care homes to offer a good vegan meal as standard on menus every day, as part of its Catering for Everyone campaign, and provide financial and practical help to farmers who wish to move away from farming animals towards growing crops for human consumption, as part of its Grow Green campaign.
Vegan diets and policy
"It is widely recognized that eating animal products has a huge environmental impact, yet this is not at all incorporated into policy," George Gill, Chief Executive at The Vegan Society, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
"Animal agriculture has not taken its share of emissions and it's becoming increasingly clear that we will not be able to meet the Paris Agreement unless we make a national shift towards plant-based diets.
"We are calling on political parties to act upon their promise and take a bold step to overcome the climate emergency by implementing policies encouraging truly sustainable, plant-based diets."
Vegan options to be standard
"We are campaigning for vegan options to become standard across the public sector to ensure there is always a suitable food option for everyone," added Will Gildea, Campaigns and Policy Officer at The Vegan Society.
"Government should also be supporting farmers who wish to towards sustainable arable farming or ecological restoration, which would help it deliver on its promise of public money for public goods.
"On an individual level, we can make a difference by eating a plant-based diet - anyone who is interested can sign up for the seven-day Plate Up for the Planet challenge."