As you know it is an extraordinary time for UK politics right now, but for FOUR PAWS UK that doesn’t mean the work to protect animals stops. The UK Government recently opened up a historic consultation to the public, asking for feedback on the current food strategy for the UK. This is fantastic news for our ‘Make Food Kinder’ campaign as it gives us a chance to directly feed into the development of this critical strategy and bring animal welfare to the forefront of decision making.
We’ve just responded to the consultation, but now it’s your turn! Any British citizen can respond, and its as simple as writing one paragraph. The deadline is 25 October 2019 so please help animals and respond today!
All it needs is <1000 words from you calling for animal welfare to be considered a critical part of this National Food Strategy. The more people who respond, the greater the chance that we can help thousands of farm animals nationwide, live a better life.
To make it even easier for you, we have included exactly what we wrote below, so feel free to copy and paste this into your own response if it helps.
FOUR PAWS UK welcomes this chance to respond to the consultation on the National Food Strategy.
Our international offices have already conducted campaigns aimed at improving farming systems and increase the provision of plant-based food, particularly in the context of public procurement.
There are numerous beneficial effects of such initiatives, including; improvements to animal welfare and health through moving away from inherently unsustainable systems; support to public education on healthier diets, including the promotion of plant-based food; increase of market opportunities for more environmentally sustainable food production, thus combatting climate change. This work, alongside countless other activities in support of animal welfare developed in close contact and collaboration with governments and farmers, places us in a good position to share ideas based both on our driving principles and vast experience.
Our input focuses on the societal demand for more humanity towards animals, and in particular towards those used in food production. There is a close link between higher animal welfare and the increase in the offer of plant-based food with other fundamental objectives such as improved diets, better use of land, access to food, environmental sustainability, and fight against climate change.
Based on the FOUR PAWS Farm Animals and Nutrition Strategy we recommend the adoption of the ‘3 Rs Principle’ for a more humane diet: Reducing the consumption of meat, fish and other foods of animal-origin; Refining the diet by choosing products from higher welfare production systems (e.g. switching to free-range and organic) and Replacing meat, dairy and eggs in the diet with plant-based alternatives. Implementing this 3 Rs Principle would not only help improve animal welfare, but also contribute to the objective of reducing carbon emissions.
The objective of educating citizens to adopt more animal-friendly, sustainable and healthy diets has already been pursued by many stakeholders, both at the national and international level, and great importance has been given to the educational value of providing better food and education to improve food choices in school canteens. These positive examples should continue and expand to other audiences, using the opportunity of public procurement to provide the public with strong examples of positive choices, and information on their multiple benefits.
The canteens of schools, hospitals, barracks, care homes, local and national institutions are ideal places to implement criteria and standards which show in practice - through each meal - the state’s objective of improving food choices.The bulk purchases in public procurement reduce the price of food for the buyers, thus allowing to implement more ambitious plans, but also create valuable market opportunities for producers of animal products who want to improve their production methods.
Large and regular orders of higher-welfare products allow farmer to offset the costs linked to improvements in their practices and/or systems, in a way that is compatible with the WTO rules on competition. The declared objective of this consultation to support farming, fishing and food businesses, benefiting employees and the wider community, would be greatly supported by a more animal-friendly use of public procurement contracts.
Even if the budget required to provide higher-quality food through public procurement might face some potential increases, moving towards more plant-based alternatives would save in cost, as plant-based meals are on average 35p cheaper than those containing animal products. This should be seen as a combined effort to improve food offer and at the same time help farmers switch to farming systems and practices that respond to the increasing citizens’ demand for higher animal welfare in the UK and abroad. Looking to the future, a wide-scale shift towards plant-based agriculture is necessary in order to meet our climate targets under the Paris Agreement.
The long-term effects of such investments could provide major benefits both at the local level, through a stronger relationship between local farmers and consumers – thus further improving the products’ carbon footprint too – and in relation to the possibility of expanding the exports of premium products which are increasingly demanded by stronger economies.
Based on what stated above, we believe that the government should:
- Conduct an analysis of the size of public procurement in the United Kingdom: where public money is spent for food procurement, and to buy what.
- Launch a review of the Government Buying Standards for Food (GBSF), with the aim to increase and make mandatory the present requirements for higher-welfare and higher-quality food, which presently have little more than a mere aspirational value. In whatever legislative context the country will move, the GBSF derive from the EU Directives on Public Procurement, therefore there are no obstacles to the adoption of more stringent measures when such Directives are implemented at the national level.
- Test the example set by universities where animal products such as beef and lamb have been banned and plant-based options increased in other public institution cafeterias. Record how much money this saves and how much the contribution to food-related carbon emissions is decreased (University of Cambridge estimates this has decreased by a third after banning beef and lamb from cafeterias).
- Link the launch of improved menus (more plant-based food, and higher-welfare animal products) to an extensive information campaign on the characteristics of the food purchased with public money, with a special focus on education to better food consumption in schools. This would help citizens make informed decisions about the food they eat through practical examples and raise awareness about what is behind the food they eat.
- Ensure consistency and repetition of the key decisions and messages in order to help consumers adopt better choices for their personal purchases too (similar to our 3 R’s principle: Reduce, Refine, Replace);
- Collaborate with retailers, food producers, restaurant chains and other businesses to favour the adoption of similar criteria in a more extensive way and in relation to ingredients too. It is worth remembering that in relation to food choice we are dealing with a necessary cultural change, which will need consistency and long-term continuity in order to generate noticeable effects in society.
Thank you so much for helping support the Make Food Kinder campaign and join the call for animal welfare to be given much greater consideration in our food policies. This kind of opportunity won’t come around again anytime soon, so get involved today and use your voice to stand up for what you believe in – a better life for animals.