Cutting our carbs - food and the environment

Cutting our carbs - food and the environment

Green Alliance's work on food has explored how different organisations are addressing the impacts of animal protein production and consumption. The UK's consumption of meat and dairy products is estimated to be responsible for eight per cent of our consumption related greenhouse gases. The majority of these emissions derive from methane and nitrous oxide emissions, which are by-products of rearing animals. The significant contribution that animal protein makes to our overall environmental impact is clear and unavoidable and will be integral to discussions about how to lower the impact of our diets.
These discussions will be contentious ones. Not least because of the perceived place of meat and dairy products in a 'normal diet' and the role of animals in creating and maintaining our view of a traditional British landscape. Green Alliance's work on food policy has therefore focused on the challenges associated with lowering the impacts of what we eat and encouraging dietary behaviour change, in particular, a diet lower in meat and dairy products.
This report draws on a series of interviews conducted with stakeholders in the meat and dairy industries, the wider farming sector, government and agencies, NGOs, retailers and academics and looks at how they are addressing the impacts of animal protein, if at all. It also explores the opportunities offered by current food policy and responds to the many positive developments set out in the recently published Cabinet Office Strategy Unit's report on food, Food Matters, towards a strategy for the 21st century.
The new proposals will see a more joined up approach to food policy across government that should allow for the health, environmental, food security and nutritional aspects of food to be considered in the round. All of our stakeholders identified this as an approach which was badly needed and our report explores the opportunities that should result from a more holistic approach being put in place.
Faye Scott, Rebekah Phillips
Publication Date:
31 July, 2008

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