It's time to change food standards to fight climate change - Economic Policy

It’s time to change food standards to fight climate change – Economic Policy

It’s time to change food standards to fight climate change: EU must subsidize plant-based drinks in Belgian schools.

We are at the heart of a man-made climate crisis (1). The global food system is responsible for a third of all human-caused emissions (2), of which around 50% comes from the animal sector (3). Yet the EU currently has plans to spend €95 million for 2022/2023 to subsidize factory-farmed cow’s milk in schools. And this, although nutrient-dense and more environmentally friendly alternatives are now widely available.

The EU is committed to leading the global fight against climate change. European leaders aspire to make Europe the first global economy to become climate-neutral by 2050. Latest IPCC report highlights importance of plant-based diets as a concrete measure to reduce emissions to mitigate climate change. The UN Climate Panel also calls on policy makers to remove existing barriers and obstacles and put in place incentives, policies and regulations to promote and accelerate the transition. Teaching our children sustainable eating habits is key to supporting the transition.

The European school fruit, vegetable and milk program subsidizes the supply of these products to millions of children in Belgium and the EU. In its current form, it is an example of regulation and subsidy that maintains existing standards with the explicit objective of encouraging and teaching generations of people to consume milk at a time when dietary habits children are formed.

Emna Everard, Founder and CEO of Kazidomi, adds: “A transition to a a more plant-based diet should be encouraged for many reasons that are no longer debated today. However, received ideas are holding back the development of plant-based foods. Unfounded, these ideas must be addressed from an early age in order to encourage a healthier, more sustainable and fairer diet. We must break the myths and inform.

The public will then make the right choices, I am sure. Today many people are still lost because of certain false and unscientific information on food which is for the most part quite simply outdated and in total inadequacy with current scientific knowledge.

This evolution of society, which sees many young people adopting plant-based diets for medical, health, environmental and ethical reasons, should be recognized and encouraged by the European school system. These subtle dietary changes should begin at school, because of the significant influence that eating habits developed in childhood have on children’s food choices later in life.

Opening the EU program to fortified plant-based alternatives means no sacrifice for children’s nutrition. Given the scientific evidence, the climate emergency and the important role schools play in setting standards, it is paramount that schools teach and encourage plant-based eating habits. And people agree. 65% of Belgians think that by introducing children to plant-based food at school, we could lay the foundations for a sustainable lifestyle. (4)

The public consultation of the European Commission on the school curriculum, closed last July, collected more than 71,000 signatures. This shows a real interest of the European population and the desire for a change to be made. By paving the way for the inclusion of plant-fortified drinks in the EU school curriculum, the EU would offer greater freedom of choice to schoolchildren and encourage plant-based eating habits. By participating in the public consultation, everyone could make their voice heard and help shape the legislation and support the transition to plant-based food. For the EU to deliver on its long-term commitment to decarbonise the food sector, plant-based alternatives can no longer be ruled out.

“We can also point out that the dairy industry can have many negative environmental impacts. The best known being the greenhouse gas emissions generated, which are very often much higher than those linked to the production of vegetable milks. This is not to mention the pollution of water and soil or the degradation of animal well-being.concludes Emna Everard.

It is necessary to include fortified plant-based drinks in the school curriculum in order to:

  • reflect the need to transform the food system and remove structural barriers that impede the shift to plant-based diets
  • ensure that children who cannot or do not want to drink cow’s milk for medical, ethical, environmental, religious or other reasons have access to plant-based beverages under the same conditions as those who consume milk and Dairy products
  • promote healthy plant-based diets, in line with the new EU public health agenda
  • help children broaden their palette of tastes by developing healthy and sustainable eating habits and facilitate societal change.

Standardizing plant-fortified beverages in schools is a logical step, one that must be taken for the benefit of people and the planet.

Emna Everard, Founder and CEO of Kazidomi

(1) IPCC, 2019, Sixth Assessment Report; Summary for Policymakers (https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGI_SPM.pdf)

(2) Crippa, M., Solazzo, E., Guizzardi, D., Monforti-Ferrario, F., Tubiello, FN, & Leip, AJNF (2021). Food systems are responsible for a third of global anthropogenic GHG emissions. NatureFood, 2(3), 198-209. https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-021-00225-9

(3) Poore, J., & Nemecek, T. (2018). Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science, 360(6392), 987-992. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaq0216

(4) A survey conducted in April 2022 by Statista on behalf of Oatly. The survey was conducted in the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Finland and Sweden. In Belgium, a representative sample of 1,000 people participated.

We are at the heart of a man-made climate crisis (1). The global food system is responsible for a third of all human-caused emissions (2), of which around 50% comes from the animal sector (3). Yet the EU currently has plans to spend €95 million for 2022/2023 to subsidize factory-farmed cow’s milk in schools. And this, although nutrient-dense and more environmentally friendly alternatives are now widely available. The EU is committed to leading the global fight against climate change. European leaders aspire to make Europe the first global economy to become climate-neutral by 2050. Latest IPCC report highlights importance of plant-based diets as a concrete measure to reduce emissions to mitigate climate change. The UN Climate Panel also calls on policy makers to remove existing barriers and obstacles and put in place incentives, policies and regulations to promote and accelerate the transition. Teaching our children sustainable eating habits is key to supporting the transition. The European School Fruit, Vegetable and Milk Scheme subsidizes the supply of these products to millions of children in Belgium and the EU. In its current form, it is an example of regulation and subsidy that maintains existing standards with the explicit objective of encouraging and teaching generations of people to consume milk at a time when dietary habits children are being formed.Emna Everard, founder and CEO of Kazidomi, adds: “A transition to a more plant-based diet should be encouraged for many reasons that are no longer debated today. However, preconceived ideas are hampering the development of the vegetable diet. Unfounded, these ideas must be addressed from an early age in order to encourage a healthier, more sustainable and fairer diet. We must break the myths and inform. The public will then make the right choices, I I’m sure many people still find themselves lost today because of certain false and unscientific information about food, which is for the most part simply outdated and inadequate. ation with current scientific knowledge.” This evolution of society, which sees many young people adopting plant-based diets for medical, health, environmental and ethical reasons, should be recognized and encouraged by the European school system. These subtle dietary changes should start at school, due to the significant influence that eating habits developed in childhood have on children’s food choices later in life. fortified plant-based alternatives mean no sacrifice for children’s nutrition. Given the scientific evidence, the climate emergency and the important role schools play in setting standards, it is paramount that schools teach and encourage plant-based eating habits. And people agree. 65% of Belgians think that by introducing children to plant-based food at school, we could lay the foundations for a sustainable lifestyle. (4) The public consultation of the European Commission on the school curriculum, closed last July, collected more than 71,000 signatures. This shows a real interest of the European population and the desire for a change to be made. By paving the way for the inclusion of plant-fortified drinks in the EU school curriculum, the EU would offer greater freedom of choice to schoolchildren and encourage plant-based eating habits. By participating in the public consultation, everyone could make their voice heard and help shape the legislation and support the transition to plant-based food. For the EU to deliver on its long-term commitment to decarbonise the food sector, plant-based alternatives can no longer be ruled out.”We can also point out that the dairy industry can have many negative environmental impacts. The best known being the greenhouse gas emissions generated which are very often much higher than those linked to the production of vegetable milks. This does not take into account the pollution of water and soil or the deterioration of animal well-being”, concludes Emna Everard. is necessary to include plant-fortified beverages in the school curriculum in order to:Standardizing plant-fortified beverages in schools is a logical step, which must be taken for the benefit of people and the planet.Emna Everard, Founder and Kazidomi CEO

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