Eating Better Campaign: For A Fair, Green, Healthy Future is a new non-profit alliance to demonstrate that eating ‘less and better’ meat is fairer, greener and healthier for people and the planet. It was launched on 1st July 2013 and is supported by a wide range of organisations. The Flexitarian catches up with the people behind the Eating Better campaign.
What are the main objectives of the Eating Better campaign?
Eating Better aims to help people move towards eating less meat and more food that’s better for us and the planet, as part of the vital task of creating sustainable food and farming systems.
Eating Better is calling for action by governments and the food industry to:
- Help people adopt diets (such as the flexitarian diet) that are better for us and the planet: by eating a greater variety of plant-based foods and less meat (red, white and processed).
- Support farming that produces meat in ways that benefit the environment, health and animal welfare.
Our vision is a world in which everyone values and has access to healthy, humane and sustainable diets. High meat consuming countries and individuals have reduced their consumption in line with health recommendations and greenhouse gas reduction targets. Meat is produced humanely and sustainably, its production provides sustainable livelihoods, environmental benefits and it is consumed in quantities consistent with good health and global resource use capacity.
Who is behind Eating Better?
Eating Better is an alliance that now has over thirty supporting organisations from health, environment, social justice, animal welfare, international development, faith and consumer sectors. See the list of supporting organisations here
Eating Better’s launch received the backing of food campaigner and celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
What are the main benefits of decreased meat consumption?
The benefits of reducing the amount of meat we eat in high consuming countries such as the UK include:
- Better for the environment and resource use: The food we eat carries a huge environmental footprint and meat is a ‘hotspot’ for greenhouse gas emissions, water use, pollution, land use and biodiversity loss.
- Better for health: Meat is a source of important dietary nutrients and we are not advocating its elimination from diets. However, high levels of consumption, particularly of red and processed meat, are detrimental to public health. Reducing consumption in high-income countries, such as the UK, will have benefits for reducing heart disease, obesity and cancer.
- Better for animal welfare: Eating less meat means fewer animals reared and fewer pressures to intensify production. Choosing meat and dairy products produced to high animal welfare standards mean a better quality of life for farm animals.
- Better for feeding the world fairly: Global meat consumption has quadrupled since the 1960s and is predicted to double by 2050 to feed a growing and more affluent global population. Over one-third of the global grain harvest and 97% of soymeal are used for animal feed, rather than to feed humans directly. Halving world consumption of grain-fed meat could feed two billion more people.
- Better for saving money: Eating less meat can save money on shopping bills which makes it possible to trade up to ‘better’ meat without necessarily spending more.
If we buy less meat, how will this affect British farmers?
Eating Better encourages a culture where we place greater value on the food we eat, the animals that provide it and the people who produce it. Eating Better supports farmers who produce meat in a sustainable way. Moderating our meat consumption while also choosing ‘better’ meat that is naturally fed, has a known provenance and is produced to high animal welfare, environmental and quality standards can help support farmers without being more expensive for consumers.
Could reducing our meat consumption be a way to effectively reduce climate change?
Reducing meat consumptions is one of the most effective ways to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) impacts from the food we eat. Livestock production contributes up to 18% of GHG emissions globally through direct emissions (mainly methane released from digestive processes and nitrous oxide from fertilisers and animal waste) and indirect emissions mainly from land-use change driven by cattle grazing and demand for feed crops such as soy mainly for pigs and poultry.
Are we really facing a meatless future?
Sustainably produced meat, such as from pasture-fed systems, can provide environmental and health benefits and provide livelihoods for producers on mixed farms and land that is unsuitable for other forms of agriculture.
Eating Better is not saying we have to give up meat completely. Rather for those who choose to eat meat, we recommend moderating our meat consumption – whether red, white or processed meats – while also choosing ‘better’ meat that is naturally fed, has a known provenance and is produced to high animal welfare, environmental and quality standards.
How can people take part?
Eating Better is building support to demonstrate to policymakers, businesses and others who can make a difference that the time is right to incorporate Eating Better’s approach into policies and practices.
You can find out how to get involved here. We’re inviting people to get involved by signing up for our e-newsletter, following us on Twitter and like us on Facebook and supporting our featured campaigns.