The UK needs to “rethink the way it eats” in order to meet the Paris Agreement targets, according to WWF-UK. And the charity, which published its revised “Livewell Plates” this week, has identified chefs and supermarkets as “key influencers” in shifting consumers to more sustainable diets.
WWF first created the Livewell Plate in 2011 to “question the perceived wisdom that it was confusing to define a diet that linked health and environmental outcomes”. The guidelines – which are based on the government’s healthy eating advice – show how people can eat a nutritious, low emission diet.
The new 2017 plates show the minimal dietary changes needed to meet the Paris Agreement commitment to keep global warming well below 2°C.
The emphasis is on less meat and more fruit and veg. Reducing the amount of red or processed meat and replacing it with alternatives like vegetable protein and meat replacers (like soy) could help to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, WWF said.
However, foodservice providers and retailers need to “re-jig their meal offers” to include vegan and vegetarian options that are not pizza or pasta based. The charity also wants to explore how vegetables can be branded to encourage consumption.
Chefs and product developers are key influencers. Some already exist but “much more can and must be done by our foodservice providers to improve menu options and make these more appealing”, WWF said.
“We need to train these [chefs and developers] to put plant protein at the centre of the plate and not see it as an afterthought or the compulsory vegan or vegetarian options,” WWF’s accompanying report reads.
Indeed, research published earlier in June showed that diners are 56% less likely to order a plant-based dish if it’s labelled vegetarian and categorised in a separate part of the menu.
As Footprint noted in a recent analysis, foodservice businesses have started to respond to the “less and better meat” agenda as consumers shift to flexitarian diets.
DEFRA, however, has remained reticent to address the issue of sustainable consumption.
WWF food policy manager Duncan Williamson said government has to engage. This is not about nanny states, he explained. “It’s about joined up policy making that puts health and sustainability at the heart of our food, farming and fishing industries.”
Williamson suggested Brexit offers “a unique opportunity to refresh the food sector to deliver health and environmental outcomes”.