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Less and Better Takes Off

Reports | Published  6 February 2019

Eating Better impact report 2017-18.

Eating Better is working to catalyse action for healthy, sustainable diets with less and better meat and dairy. This shift in eating patterns is essential to safeguard the environment and stay within safe climate limits, improve health and animal welfare and secure social justice.

This year we have increased momentum both within and outside the alliance, incorporated Eating Better as a charity, carried out and launched new research and addressed challenging issues like defining ‘better’ meat and dairy. All this has taken place in a policy environment dominated by Brexit.

Sue Dibb retired after leading Eating Better since its launch in 2013, and we welcomed Simon Billing who we have announced as Executive Director.

Less and better

There is an irrefutable and urgent need to produce and eat less meat and dairy in order to stay within safe climate limits. 14.5% of global climate changing gases are due to meat and dairy production.

The remaining meat and dairy we eat should be ‘better’. Better for: farm animals; nature; feeding the world fairly; our health; responsible antibiotic use; cutting waste; and for farming livelihoods. The evidence for this is set out in our report ‘Principles for eating meat and dairy more sustainably: the ‘less and better’ approach.’

A turbulent policy environment

Brexit uncertainties continue to dominate the UK food policy environment. The year began shortly after the general election with a weakened Government and the appointment of Michael Gove as Secretary of State for DEFRA. Although a controversial character, his willingness to challenge the dominant ‘trade at all costs’ agenda within government has largely been welcomed by Eating Better’s alliance organisations, arguing for future trade policies that do not undermine UK standards for food safety and quality, animal welfare and the environment – highly relevant to Eating Better’s ‘less and better’ approach to livestock.

Gove has spoken about the need for a better integrated food and agriculture policy. However, the publication of DEFRA’s Health and Harmony White Paper (April 2018) to which Eating Better responded and the Agriculture Bill (September 2018) are very narrowly focused on production and productivity. While we welcome the focus on ensuring public money is targeted at farmers delivering environmental goods, there is a feeling that this is a missed opportunity to take a joined up approach to food, health, environment and farming.

We continue to work directly and with alliance organisations, including Sustain and the UK Health Forum, to ensure that government ministers, parliamentarians and civil servants are hearing Eating Better’s policy messages.

Growing Momentum

The Eating Better Alliance has grown and strengthened.We welcomed new members the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and Greenpeace International.

Eating Better supporting organisations made powerful commitments to meat reduction:

Compassion In World Farming – launched their campaign ‘why we need to reduce consumption of livestock products by 50% by 2050’ in December 2017.

Greenpeace International – launched ‘Less is More’ in March 2017.

RSPCA Assured – launched ‘Eat less, eat better’ in May 2018.

There is change on the high street, although more needs to be done.

This year saw supermarkets launch more plant-based ranges (including Tesco’s Wicked Kitchen range, Sainsbury’s Naturli products and Waitrose with The Happy Pear), increased investment into meat and dairy alternatives and investor action towards highlighting the risks for companies that are heavily invested in intensive meat and dairy supply chains.

Less and better receiving support

Eating Better’s less and better narrative is now being supported by progressive farming interests, academics, civil society organisations, assurance and certification bodies, vets and health experts.

Over the next year Eating Better is committed to driving a step-change in the action needed to make #lessandbetter meat and dairy a reality, and we look forward to working with you all to further grow our impact to reduce meat and dairy consumption by 50% by 2030.

Read the full impact report, here.

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