EU to promote vegan alternatives to meat
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The Green Deal adopted by the European Commission forces initial activities and implementation of wide-ranging measures and grants in the area of nutrition, which should result in health benefits for citizens.
"From farm to fork" is the name of the EU's new sustainability strategy, adopted by the Commissioners last week with the objective of ensuring a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system, focussing on food safety and access to healthy food, as well as vegan meat alternatives.
The strategy paper, drafted by Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, states that current predominant food consumption is neither beneficial to health or the environment. This is also supported by studies, for example by the 2018 Oxford University study, that provided statistical data to show that a worldwide vegetarian diet by 2050 could reduce deaths by a more than seven million. The environment would also benefit greatly from a global change in diet, as food derived from animals currently contribute 14.5 percent to global warming. According to the Commission, the consumption of - above all - red meat should be greatly reduced in the future.
For this, ten billion euros will be made available within the framework of the EU programme "Horizon 2020", which will also be used to examine and produce vegan meat alternatives. The aim is to change the eating habits of many EU citizens. The focus here will be on two groups - people who cannot afford healthy food and people who could afford it but are too ill-informed. In this context, another measure that the Commission is striving for sounds almost revolutionary - "tax incentives should drive the transition to a sustainable food system and encourage consumers to opt for sustainable and nutritional food. This would result in healthy foods such as fruit, vegetables or vegan plant-based meat alternatives becoming cheaper and unhealthy ones, especially meat, becoming more expensive. Member States could, for example, be authorised to reduce the VAT rate on organic fruit and vegetables to reduce prices. On the other side, member states would have to ensure that "the price of different foods reflects their real costs in terms of their use of limited natural resources, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and other external environmental impact," said Commissioner Kyriakides. Ultimately, this would amount to the 'meat tax' which is becoming a political issue.
The German Minister of Agriculture, Ms. Klöckner, also explained last week that "theoretical requirements will be brought into line with practice and the everyday work on farms", and that "the core task of agriculture is to produce food".
Charles-Henry Debal, Managing Director of TOPAS GmbH, one of the leading developers of organic vegan meat alternatives for more than 25 years now, believes that fairer taxation makes sense and is timely - "Meat is taxed at a low rate, while meat alternatives are subject to 19% VAT. I do not advocate fairer taxation only for climate change damage reasons. The costs resulting from intensive meat production, the extinction of species, land degradation and water shortages must finally be priced in.”
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