Politics & Law

Call to Action: Prioritise Funding for Alt Protein Over Livestock Production to Drive Change

The EU’s agricultural promotion policy must focus more on healthy plant-based diets. Instead, it provides more funding for the livestock sector, which pollutes and depletes waterways, and is responsible for 17% of carbon emissions of the region, said Falk Hemsing, international policy officer at ProVeg and co-author of a report recently published by the Smart Protein project

To address the climate crisis, the EU should promote alternative proteins and encourage Europeans to switch towards plant-based diets, argues ProVeg International

“Animal agriculture also contributes to lifestyle diseases, global hunger, and animal suffering so replacing animal products with plant-based and cultivated foods offers the EU a multi-pronged solution to these problems,” adds Juliette Tronchon, senior policy and public affairs specialist at ProVeg and also co-author of the report.

Smart protein policy brief
© Smart Protein

Calling on the EU Commission

The Smart Protein project is a collaboration between various sectors, including industry, research, and academia, aiming to develop sustainable future foods. ProVeg is one of 33 partners. 

The Smart Protein Policy Brief calls on the European Commission to progress on policies to promote plant-based foods in the EU. It makes “clear recommendations” for making European food systems healthier and more sustainable.

“As stated in the Farm to Fork Strategy, alternative proteins, such as plant, microbial, or marine proteins, is one of key areas of research for a sustainable, healthy and inclusive food system,” said Cindy Schoumacher, policy officer at the European Commission DG Research and Innovation.

But while the EU has allocated money for research into sustainable protein sources (€32 million), the amount allotted is small compared to the large €95.5 billion budget the EU has for other research areas, explains ProVeg.


Oatly Cream Cheese
© Oatly

Achieving the European Green Deal

The report highlights policy tools to promote alt proteins in the EU, including labeling and marketing that show the product’s carbon footprint, public food procurement, removing VAT rates on fruit and vegetables (only four EU member states have a 0% rate), and subsidies. 

Other measures include promoting plant-based foods in public institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and local government buildings.

Specifically, they are:

  • Launch a front-of-pack sustainability labeling scheme for food products
  • Establish an EU-wide definition of the terms vegan and vegetarian
  • Allow plant-based products to use conventional meat and dairy names such as milk or cheese
  • Include plant-based foods in the EU’s criteria for sustainable public procurement
  • Make nutritious, fortified plant-based products eligible for organic certification
  • Ensure EU-wide VAT rates for plant-based products and animal-sourced foods are equal and encourage more member states to introduce 0% VAT rates for plant-based whole foods
  • Revise the EU’s current agriculture-promotion policy
  • Increase R&D funding for plant-based innovation.

“The aim is to stimulate food consumption that is sustainable in both health and environmental aspects, highlighting the importance of plant-based diets. Smart Protein is providing key information to fill knowledge gaps on alternative proteins and contribute to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal,” Schoumacher added.

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