Animal Aid

Speak out on the Future of Food

Posted 10 August 2009

Hilary Benn, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs secretary, has said that the UK needs to radically rethink the way in which food is produced and processed if we are to enjoy food security in the future. Benn was talking at the launch of the country’s first food security assessment, which analyses the current state of the UK's food supply and highlights the key challenges to a sustainable future. The assessment package includes 'Food 2030', an online consultation that the government would like to hear your views on. The initiative comes in the midst of an intensifying debate about the disproportionately high environmental costs of animal farming and the growing recognition that a sustainable future cannot be achieved without major reductions in meat and dairy consumption.

Hilary Benn said:

‘While we know the price of our food, the full environmental costs and the costs to our health are significant and hidden. We need a radical rethink of how we produce and consume our food’.

Last March, Animal Aid produced a new recipe booklet titled 'Meat-Free! Feed four for under a fiver', which includes detailed sections on the hidden costs of meat (and other animal products) to our health, the environment and, of course, the animals. We are, therefore, pleased, that the government will finally be highlighting the detrimental impact that animal farming is having on the environment and our future food security.

Our Meat-Free booklet highlights that even though there are more and more mouths to feed, there is currently enough grain being produced to feed everybody. The main problem is not the amount of food but the ways in which the world's grain harvest is being used and distributed. Farmed animals are fed no less than half of the world's harvest. And the 'return' is extremely poor. It takes roughly eight kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of beef and two kilos are required for one kilo of chicken. More meat means that land and resources are devoted to growing grain to feed the rising number of farmed animals, when it would make far more sense to grow food that humans can eat directly - grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, vegetables and fruits.

The booklet concludes that, as resources become ever more scarce, a more sustainable solution to growing more food - and one that the experts now agree upon - is for the human population to rely more upon a plant-based diet.

We hope, that having read the booklet and our environmental factsheet that you will help us to urge the government to promote sustainable plant-based foods as our future, secure, food supply.

Within the Food 2030 project there are a number of discussion topics that you might like to comment on including: reducing the food system’s contribution to climate change, reducing diet related chronic disease and sustainable farming.

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