The EU will support the consumption of plant-based products as reported in the 2022 promotional policy published last December. The policy allocates 185.9 million euros to the promotion of EU agri-food products in and outside the EU and will fund campaigns coherent with the sustainability targets set in the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy. Consequently, products and agricultural practices that support organic products, animal welfare, fruit, and vegetables will benefit from the promotion policy as they did in 2021.
The Commissioner of Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski justified the policy as necessary to increase the demand for these diets and incentivize more producers in the green transition.
The policy has caused divided reactions. The decision has been positively received by civil society actors who advocate for higher development of plant-based initiatives in the agricultural sector, but some representatives of the farmers’ lobby criticized the inclusion, in an annex of the policy working document, of an invitation to reduce the consumption of red and processed meat, as well as all the other foods linked with increased cancer risks.
However, the EU position is in line with studies that show the environmental impact that livestock production has. The sector is a key driver of deforestation, land degradation, biodiversity loss, and water depletion.
Furthermore, it has also been widely demonstrated that a shift in our diet is not only beneficial for the planet but also for our health. The overconsumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, several cancers, and cardiovascular diseases.
In the last years, consumers have become increasingly aware of these health risks and started opting for plant-based alternatives. These concerns have been relayed by SAFE on many occasions. Moreover, SAFE has often stressed the need to promote more sustainable and healthier diets by increasing support for plant-based and organic products, especially legumes (see for instance: https://www.safefoodadvocacy.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Open-NGO-Joint-Letter-to-Commissioner-Wojciechowski_29SEP2020.pdf) for the higher benefit of consumers’ health.