National Food Strategy: Call for Evidence- Animal Rebellion’s Response

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The UK’s food and farming systems are in crisis. A transformation of our farming and fishing 1 sectors is essential if we are to address the climate, ecological and societal challenges ahead. 2

Animal agriculture is a leading cause of climate change, ecosystem collapse, biodiversity loss, soil, air and water degradation, eutrophication, flooding, deforestation, nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, and species extinction. The UK is not on track to meet its climate 3 change targets. 4

Every year in the UK over a billion animals are slaughtered for human consumption. The 5 suffering of these animals is incalculable and unjust. We agree with the Government that 6 intensive farming generates significant and avoidable environmental problems but you can’t restore the natural environment without ending corrosive animal agriculture. 7

Fishing also presents a catastrophic threat and many fishing communities in the UK are 8 economically deprived and trapped in a dysfunctional system. 9 10

Farming of animals is environmentally and ethically harmful and economically unsound. 11 Farmers are in crisis but pressure on livestock farmers will only intensify as population 12 growth increases demand for meat and dairy. These demands are not sustainable. 13 14

Future food insecurity due to climate change risks societal breakdown, mass displacement and poverty and climate change is already affecting food security. 15

However, the consumption of healthy, sustainable diets present major opportunities for reducing GHG emissions. 16

Animal Rebellion state we must transition to a plant-based food system to avert climate breakdown and end animal farming and fishing with urgency. 17

We suggest the following solutions:

1. Incentivise plant based business The number of vegans in the UK has increased significantly and vegans and 18 vegetarians could make up a quarter of the British population in 2025. Plant-based businesses have seen a significant growth and represents a huge economic opportunity for food providers and farmers. Heather Mills’ “vegan northern 19 powerhouse” is already bringing investment into northern England. Government 20 should incentivise sustainable plant based start-ups and investment. 21

2. Shift subsidies away from animal agriculture and towards protein crop cultivation Between 2016-17, £70 billion in subsidies were paid to resource intensive, high-polluting factory farms. Farms grazing livestock rely on subsidies for 90% of 22 profits while the figure is only 10% for fruit farms. The price of meat and dairy is 23 below profitable levels. Many farmers in Britain are finding it hard to make a living. 24 Brexit and the loss of these subsidies threatens these sectors. We support moving 25 subsidies and incentives towards sustainable protein crops such as fava beans, oats, peas, hemp seed, and sweet lupin. Tollhurst Organic vegan farm presents a 26 successful example of model shift. 27

3. An Agricultural Revolution 70% of farm animals in the UK are kept in factory farms, where their lives are spent in overcrowded barns, cages and farrowing crates. There are over 800 US-style mega 28 farms which subject animals to prolonged and cruel distress. Our current 29 agricultural system promotes technology and output over animal rights and environmental preservation. Justice for animals is central to this revolution as we 30 stop artificially breeding animals to transform farming into an agroecological industry which works in harmony with the land and renews instead of draining resources. 31

4. Commit to growing more fruit, vegetables, nuts and pulses in the UK to increase food self-sufficiency Food poverty in the UK is growing, but we already grow enough food to feed the 32 world, however, much of this is used to feed livestock. UK farming provides less 33 34 than 50% of the food eaten here and more than 90% of fruits and vegetables are imported. Land used to grow animal feed and suitable land under pasture land 35 should be repurposed for crops for human consumption only. National self-sufficiency would result in a CO2 reduction of 3,236 million tonnes or 9 years of current UK emissions. We must stop importing soya feed responsible for deforestation in the 36 Amazon. 37

5. Make healthy food affordable Food and health are inextricably linked. A high consumption of red and processed meat represent the second biggest risk factor for mortality in the UK . Eating more 38 fruit, vegetables and fibre has a bigger impact on health than just eating less meat or dairy . Antibiotic resistance is exacerbated by the use of antibiotics in farmed 39 animals. We urge the government to extend initiatives like the Food Foundation’s 40 Peas Please project and the VegPower campaign, as well as launching new ones. 41 42 The growing demand for plant-based alternatives present a significant opportunity to increase good health outcomes. Public money and VAT relief should reflect the 43 value of plant-based foods.

6. Public procurement of plant-based food Catering services in public institutions like schools and hospitals should offer plant-based alternatives. We envisage free plant-milk in schools and plant-based menus in government canteens. The Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering (GBSF) guidelines should add further provision for choices made on animal welfare and fish sustainability. The only food system which addresses these points 44 is a plant-based one.

7. Signposting for citizens 32 See separate reference & evidence pages 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 4 The public need to be better informed of the impact animal agriculture has on health, environment and animal welfare. It must be more expensive and socially unacceptable to make choices that are damaging. We submit that CO2 warning on food packaging as used now by Oatly milk and a traffic light system to indicate 45 climate/animal welfare impact of our food should be rolled out nationally. We support the ‘Signposting for Citizens’ recommendations in Imperial College London’s research. 46

8. Citizens’ Assemblies on healthy and sustainable food People often feel disenfranchised from decisions made by public bodies and making healthy food choices can be difficult. A citizens’ assembly with a mandate to study the scientific evidence and enact changes is vital in giving people agency in their food system as well as education strategies on plant-based cooking. 47

9. Safeguarding farmers through the transition Defra doesn’t provide the necessary guidance to enable farmers to adapt their business . The government should immediately put in place an economic and 48 strategic framework to ensure a just transition for farmers and allow them to plan for the future. Peer-to-peer support should be available in addition to finance and fair 49 prices so they can save and reinvest. The Vegan Organic Network, The Vegan 50 Society’s ‘Grow Green Project’ and Transfarmers should be consulted as 51 52 examples of successful transitions to plant-based agriculture.

10. Rewilding and justice for farmed animals. Since 1945, the UK’s natural habitat has been destroyed. Rewilding the land we 53 use for animal farming to native forest would reduce carbon dioxide by 4,472 million tonnes, offsetting 12 years of current UK CO2 emissions. We would free animals 54 currently held within the farming system to live out their natural lives in animal sanctuaries.

National Food Strategy- Animal Rebellion References and Evidence: