Alternative proteins not the answer to meat climate change issues

By Gwen Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Investment in green meat initiatives could circumvent the need for alternative proteins as a replacement, claimed the BMPA
Investment in green meat initiatives could circumvent the need for alternative proteins as a replacement, claimed the BMPA

Related tags: Meat & Seafood

UK Government should invest more time and money into proven ways to help reduce meat’s carbon footprint than focus on alternative proteins as a solution to climate change issues, according to the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA)

The BMPA’s comments followed a new report from think tank The Social Market Foundation (SMF) that called for the Government to encourage the consumption of alternative proteins to help address climate change.

Aside from reducing the risk of zoonotic diseases and improving animal welfare, its posed the shift toward no animal sources of protein would be politically easier for ministers than taxing traditional meats.

However, the BMPA argued that work and research taking place across the world to reduce the carbon footprint of meat would be a more logical choice for Government to allocate more resources toward.  

Progress in meat

“Much progress has been made already,”​ said BMPA chief executive Nick Allen. “This would then enable land that cannot be used for growing crops to be used to help feed the ever growing population on the planet with a healthy balanced diet that includes meat which uniquely provides essential vitamins.

“The full carbon footprint of heavily processing product from plants into meat lookalikes is not fully understood although we do know they don’t replace the nutrients supplied by meat.”

Meat production across the globe has come under fire in recent years over fears of its impact on the environment. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, animal agriculture accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

While the UK has committed £90m to support new alternative protein research, the SMF argued that figure should rise or risk Britain being left behind a global race to develop alternatives to meat.

Range of options

The paper’s author, Linus Pardoe, SMF research associate, said: “A better solution would be to help consumers transition to more sustainable dietary habits by expanding the range of alternative protein products on the market. We can only expect consumers to switch from eating meat if product offerings are high-quality, affordable and easily accessible.

“The Government can help deliver a thriving alternative protein market by providing funding for a new research cluster and strategic support for the industry. The global race for alternative proteins is on and the UK should be leading the charge.”

Meanwhile, plant-based eating is now well and truly mainstream, and with many major food manufacturers investing significantly in their meat-free product ranges. We explore some of the trends in this feature.

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