Today, on 10 September 2021, two powerful European Parliament committees called on the European Commission to promote healthy plant-rich diets as part of a sustainable EU food strategy. The NGO Compassion in World Farming EU welcomes this call, as ambitious measures are needed in order to improve our food systems for the benefit of people, animals and the planet.
The need for plant-rich diets
The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee and the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee adopted a joint position on the European Commission’s food policy, the Farm to Fork strategy for a "fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system".
A “population-wide shift in consumption patterns is needed,” such as “increased consumption of […] plant-based foods”, stressed the two Committees, highlighting the need to address the “overconsumption of meat” and other unhealthy products for the benefit of our health, the environment and animal welfare.
Indeed, 20 meat and dairy firms emit more greenhouse gas than Germany, Britain or France, as highlighted earlier this week by a new report by Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Friends of the Earth Europe and Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz. Scientists emphasise that urgent action to promote plant-rich diets is essential to ensure planetary and human health. This will also help reduce the immense number of animals used in farming, due to the current intensive agricultural system.
End the Cage Age
Today's report, which will be voted on by the full Parliament later in the year, also calls on the Commission to put forward legislation phasing out the use of cages for farmed animals. This echoes the call of the successful ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative, which has garnered 1.4 million verified signatures from people in all EU member states, as well as an earlier resolution by the EU Parliament on the issue and a commitment by the European Commission to turn this call into reality.
The report also emphasises the need for higher standards for fish. It calls on the Commission and the member states to improve fish welfare, in particular by supporting better “methods of capture, landing, transport and slaughter of fish and marine invertebrates”.
Seeds for a better future
“I strongly welcome the call by these two important committees for the need to transition to more plant-rich diets, as well as to improve animal welfare," said Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU. "There is, of course, room for improvement in the MEPs’ demands, as higher ambition is needed. Nonetheless, MEPs and the European Commission are already looking for solutions in the right direction. We will be vigilant in making certain that the follow-up actions are bold and timely. The seeds for a better future are already there – now it’s a matter of ensuring they come to fruition.”
In May last year, the EU Commission released its food policy vision – the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, which aims to reform the way the EU produces and consumes food. With it, the Commission commits to improving animal welfare legislation and making agriculture more sustainable.
In the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, the EU Commission recognises that our "food consumption patterns are unsustainable", and that the EU average "consumption of whole-grain cereals, fruit and vegetables, legumes and nuts is insufficient." It has also proposed to establish "minimum mandatory criteria for sustainable food procurement".
In June this year, an international group of over 60 scientists called on the European Commission to shift its funding for food advertisements away from animal products and towards healthier and more sustainable plant-based diets. Among the scientists is Dr Jane Goodall, world-renowned ethologist, PhD, DBE, UN Messenger of Peace and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute.
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