Belgian Presidency of the EU urge focus on plant protein availability and diversification

The European Vegetarian Union broadly welcomed the conclusions drawn from the recent meeting of the Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries under the Belgian Presidency on 24 June 2024. The meeting, which aimed to discuss the future of agriculture and fisheries in the EU, recognised the need to enhance the availability and diversification of plant protein sources within the European Union – a crucial step towards creating a more sustainable, resilient and healthy food system.

The conclusions emphasised the need for a systemic and integrated approach to food systems to ensure affordability and sustainability. The specific call for more attention to be paid to plant protein sources marks a significant acknowledgement of the role plant-based foods can play in achieving the EU’s environmental, biodiversity and climate commitments. Albeit, without mentioning the need to increase plant protein consumption itself.

The conclusions indeed fall short of calling for a needed dietary shift and deeper changes in the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) towards environmental and health-related goals, despite this being a common and growing call from political parties across Europe.

At the start of the Belgian Presidency, the EVU demonstrated that alignment of the Presidency’s programme with our vision for a sustainable future was significant. We’re saddened to see a lack of significant progress in these matters, despite our belief that tracts of the programme can be aligned with promoting plant-based diets and more sustainable agri-food systems. This alignment would increase strategic autonomy, introduce health in all policies, create a future-proof economy, and invest in research and innovation. In addition, the Open Food Conference organiSed by the Presidency in March 2024, witnessed high-level discussions and generated a broad consensus on the need to transition towards more plant-based diets.

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