Eat Bugs: New EU Food Policy Promotes Less Meat, More ‘Alternative Proteins’

KAREN BLEIER/AFP via Getty Images

Europeans must move to a “more plant-based diet”, according to new EU food policy, which also revealed the bloc will promote “insect-based proteins and meat substitutes”.

The European Commission’s Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy for creating a “fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly” food system insists that such a transition “will not happen without a shift in people’s diets”.

“Moving to a more plant-based diet with less red and processed meat and with more fruits and vegetables will reduce not only risks of life-threatening diseases, but also the environmental impact of the food system,” asserts the strategy, which was unveiled Wednesday.

In order to promote such a diet, the strategy said research in Europe will focus on “increasing the availability and source of alternative proteins such as plant, microbial, marine, and insect-based proteins and meat substitutes.”

A change in eating habits is “critical” to reducing obesity, according to the Commission, which also acknowledges in its F2F Strategy that Europeans want food that is “fresh [and] less processed”.

It is unclear how promoting a move to eat less meat will address these concerns, however, as plant-based meat substitutes are considered to be “ultra-processed” foods, which research has linked to weight gain as well as poor health and early death.

Some activists were disappointed with the strategy, an earlier draft of which reportedly suggested that the Commission would propose to “stop stimulating production or consumption of meat”.

The Good Food Institute Europe (GFI Europe), which lobbies on behalf of the plant-based meat substitute industry, hailed the strategy as a “significant step forward”, claiming so-called alternative proteins “play a critical role in Europe’s transition to a more sustainable, healthy and just food system”.

According to the EU document, the F2F Strategy is “at the heart of” the European Green Deal, the Commission’s “roadmap”” to making Europe “the first climate-neutral continent by 2050”.

“It maps a new, sustainable and inclusive growth strategy to boost the economy, improve people’s health and quality of life, care for nature, and leave no one behind,” boasts the unelected EU executive.

Many scientists are sceptical about plans to drastically slash carbon emissions, however, with Cambridge engineering professor Michael Kelly warning that scrapping reliable energy sources such as coal and nuclear in favour of renewables would be an act of “total madness” that would necessarily result in a collapse of living standards.

“In energy terms the current generation of renewable energy technologies alone will not enable a civilized modern society to continue,” the Hughes Medal-decorated physicist wrote, in a 2016 paper which noted that renewables supplied only seven per cent of global electricity needs while “the rate at which fossil fuels are growing is seven times that at which the low carbon energies are growing”.

“The call to decarbonize the global economy by 80 per cent by 2050 can now only be described as glib in my opinion, as the underlying analysis shows it is only possible if we wish to see large parts of the population die from starvation, destitution or violence in the absence of enough low-carbon energy to sustain society,” he warned.

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