Plant-based diets the ‘least favourite solution to climate change’, reveals UN poll

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A global UN poll on climate change discovered that while over two-thirds of people believe we have a global emergency, very few consider plant-based diets a solution.

A UN poll surveying over one million people in 50 countries has found that 64% of people around the world now view climate change as a ‘global emergency’. But of 18 policies suggested, 70% of people voted plant-based diets last.

The survey, half of whose respondents were aged between 14 and 18, deemed the conservation of forests and land the most popular answer on a global scale. A staggering 54% supported this policy, which was followed by solar, wind and renewable power, climate-friendly farming techniques, and investing more in green businesses and jobs.

The backing of plant-based diets in Germany and the UK rose to 44% and 43% respectively, the places with the highest support in the world.

The UK’s Association of Independent Meat Suppliers told FoodNavigator: “Consumers continue to buy meat because they enjoy eating meat.” It continued: “They appreciate the clear health benefits that it offers to their diets and rightly are shying away from ‘shouty’, ‘preachy’ content of the plant-based diet promoters.”

The UN Climate Change report, released last year, advised plant-based diets as the best way to individually mitigate emissions. The report stated: “Balanced diets, featuring plant-based foods, such as those based on coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and animal-sources food produced in resilient, sustainable and low-emission systems, present major opportunities for adoption and mitigation while generating significant co-benefits in terms of human health.”

The UNDP survey said that while the survey revealed how unpopular plant-based diets are as a solution, this may be due to access to education. Two-thirds of respondents are aware of the ‘global emergency’ of climate change, and the UNDP says the survey “could be an important opportunity for further education on [plant-based] topics.”

It added: “In some countries, there are few plant-based options. In others, there may not yet be significant awareness about these options. In others, people may have felt that diet is more of a personal choice than something that can be ‘promoted’.”

Check out the UN’s Sustainable Development goals.