Coalition of orgs takes plant-based message to UN Food Systems Summit

September 24, 2021

An international coalition of sustainability organisations has called on world leaders to promote plant-based diets for the sake of people and planet.

Representing the huge swell of the plant-based movement, more than 50 international organisations and experts have called on world leaders to recognise the sustainability benefits of transitioning to a plant-centric food system.

In an open letter led by nonprofit group 50by40, advocates flagged that animal agriculture cannot continue on its present course without undermining global climate and sustainability goals, and called for a #JustLivestockTransition away from intensive animal agriculture.

The letter addressed UN member state representatives as they gathered in New York for the world’s first Food Systems Summit on 23 September, and in anticipation of the COP26 global climate talks in Glasgow this November.

Another letter was also presented to world leaders at Thursday’s Summit. Led by the True Animal Protein Price Coalition (TAPP), it calls on the 50 countries that eat the most meat to increase prices for animal products while making fruit and vegetables more affordable for all.

A game-changing solution

The newly-launched campaigns follow the latest and most dire warnings about the climate crisis from the UN International Panel on Climate Change, which recently issued a “code red” alert for humanity.

The ongoing expansion of industrial livestock production is having devastating impacts on our planet’s ecosystems, natural resources, livelihoods, human health, and animal welfare, yet livestock reduction has been a neglected solution – until now.

Representing a growing international plant-based movement, advocates are going all out to make sure that what we eat is no longer the elephant in the room.

The 50by40 letter is clear: “Industrialised livestock production has become the most resource-intensive way to produce protein, just as coal is the most polluting way to produce energy”. By contrast, it cites evidence that “growing food exclusively for direct human consumption could increase available food calories by as much as 70%, feeding an additional four billion people”.

The letter goes on to highlight that reducing animal agriculture and embracing plant-centric food systems would bring numerous environmental, health, social and economic benefits, from freeing up land for food production and reforestation to mitigating climate change and saving millions of lives through healthier diets.

No more status quo

The trajectory we’re on simply cannot feed our growing population. Industrial animal agriculture is decimating the world’s remaining forests, hastening the extinction crisis, releasing more greenhouse gases than the entire transport sector, and is the main cause of zoonotic disease risk. All the while, meat-heavy diets are making us sick.

In a statement about the TAPP Coalition’s #FutureFoodPrice campaign, director Jeroom Remmers warned that dietary intake of animal products in high-consuming countries cannot be sustained. “If global meat and dairy consumption remain at their current levels, and even increase, it will be impossible to keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels.”

A new exposé by Greenpeace has revealed that animal agribusiness lobbyists have been hard at work trying to ensure plant-based solutions are kept off the policy table, but campaigners are determined, and a groundswell of awareness is building: business as usual cannot continue.

Over recent years, campaigners, consumers and companies alike have been increasingly recognising the power of plants in the fight to save our planet. With these new calls to action launched in time for the Food Systems Summit, the message has decisively hit the world stage, promising hope for further plant-based progress at the upcoming climate talks in November.

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