The need to address the “overconsumption of meat” and other unhealthy products for the benefit of our health

Two powerful European Parliament committees have called on the European Commission to promote healthy plant-rich diets as part of a sustainable EU food strategy.

The NGO Compassion in World Farming EU has welcomed this call, highlighting that ambitious measures are needed in order to improve our food systems for the benefit of people, animals and the planet.

The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee and the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee adopted a joint position on the European Commission’s food policy, the farm to fork plan for a ‘fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system’.

A “population-wide shift in consumption patterns is needed,” such as “increased consumption of […] plant-based foods”, stressed the two Committees, highlighting the need to address the “overconsumption of meat” and other unhealthy products for the benefit of our health, the environment and animal welfare.

Indeed, 20 meat and dairy firms emit more greenhouse gas than Germany, Britain or France, as highlighted earlier this week by a report by Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Friends of the Earth Europe and Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz emphasising that urgent action to promote plant-rich diets is essential to ensure planetary and human health.

This will also help reduce the immense number of animals used in farming, due to the current intensive agricultural system.

The report, which will be voted on by the full Parliament later in the year, also calls on the Commission to put forward legislation phasing out the use of cages for farmed animals. This echoes the call of the successful end the cage European Citizens’ Initiative, which has garnered 1.4 million verified signatures from people in all EU member states, as well as an earlier vote by the EU Parliament on the issue and a pledge by the European Commission to turn this call into reality.

I strongly welcome the call by these two important committees for the need to transition to more plant-rich diets, as well as to improve animal welfare. There is, of course, room for improvement in the MEPs’ demands, as higher ambition is needed. Nonetheless, MEPs and the European Commission are already looking for solutions in the right direction. We will be vigilant in ensuring that the follow-up actions are bold and timely. The seeds for a better future are already there – now it’s a matter of ensuring they come to fruition.

Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU.

The report also emphasises the necessity for higher standards for fish. It calls on the Commission and the member states to improve fish welfare, in particular by supporting better “methods of capture, landing, transport and slaughter of fish and marine invertebrates”.

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