On Tuesday, March 8, 2022, the Food Transition Coalition delivered its petition titled ‘Plant-Based: The New Normal’ to the House of Representatives. The petition encompasses a ten-point plan comprising ten recommendations designed to accelerate the transition toward a healthier, more sustainable, and more plant-based diet, and to integrate this approach into policy. The goal is to change the current 40/60 plant-to-animal ratio into 60/40 by the year 2030. Laura Bromet (GroenLinks) received the plan on behalf of the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality.
The petition was co-sponsored by the National Week Without Meat & Dairy and was created in collaboration with the Core Team Protein Transition, and with input from participants at the Plant the Future dinner held on October 14, 2021.
On March 29th 2022, Minister Staghouwer released a letter on food policy evaluation. Within this letter, we recognized many points of our ten-point plan. Notably, the suggestion to formulate a vision has been adopted. The minister has set the target of achieving a 50/50 ratio between plant-based and animal-based proteins by 2030. We have successfully fulfilled one point of the ten-point plan! Now, it is important to discuss how this can be translated into tangible government policies and business actions. This is why the Food Transition Coalition is developing an action agenda for the protein transition. This agenda is a collaborative effort involving key stakeholders who contribute to the protein transition. The agenda encompasses concrete objectives and measures designed to accelerate the transition towards Plant-Based as the New Normal. Would you like to learn more about this action agenda? Continue reading here.
The “beanstalk” within the ten-point plan draws inspiration from the fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. In this tale, Jack, a lazy farmer’s son, exchanges their last cow for beans. His mother, disappointed by the trade, throws the beans out of the window. However, these beans miraculously sprout into a colossal beanstalk overnight, reaching up to the sky. Jack climbs the beanstalk and embarks on a series of exciting new adventures.
For more details, you can download the ten-point plan and read about the petition in the provided press release.
Support initiatives that contribute to the protein transition: such as the development of benchmarks, specific tools, programmes and public campaigns. Benchmarking can also provide insight into how the private sector contributes to reaching the nationally established goals.
A. Benchmark grocery stores. Support from the government for the current benchmark for grocery stores (including activation via campaigns and recommendations).
B. Benchmark employers/ catering. A concept for an “employer’s benchmark” (including activation via campaigns and recommendations) for catering supply is being developed. Support is needed to develop the tool further and potentially replicate it in the hospitality industry.
C. Tools for food-suppliers. Support the creation of tools for food-suppliers also outside of the public domain. The government can support initiatives in this domain and cooperate to reach recommendations.
D. Tools for municipalities (Financially) Support initiatives for accelerating the protein transition, by and for municipalities and regional governments and adopt these in policy development.
E. Continue and transform the National Action Plan Vegetables and Fruit to a ‘National Action Plan More Plant-Based, Less Animal-based’. Continue the partnership with businesses, the vegetable and fruit sector, government, knowledge institutes, and societal organisations, and expand to the Green Protein Alliance and a broader coalition protein transition among others to stimulate the consumption of vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts, legumes, and other plant-based (protein) sources and provide consumers with perspective for action.
F. Reposition Dutch Cuisine, aiming to shift the protein balance in our eating pattern, from a ratio of 80/20 to an additional completely plant-based diet on the plate and with that a different ratio on menus: to make more plant-based, less animal-based the easy choice.
G. Organise a national food top, in which the protein transition as an essential part of a healthy and sustainable eating pattern is central (following from the national food top in 2017) and/or organise a national congress on a healthy and sustainable food environment in which the protein transition is the central theme.
Focus on economic opportunities through policy: Use the existing knowledge and experience on protein production and the worldwide image of the Netherlands as the country of protein to the advantage of the protein transition and maintain a frontrunner position, by repositioning: the Netherlands as a frontrunner in the plant-based protein industry. Involve all relevant parties, from the meat and dairy industry to the plant-based sector.
Draft laws and regulations to promote the protein transition and a healthy and sustainable food environment, such as:
A. Introduce price incentives: increase the price on animal products through tax (in line with the proposal by the True Animal Pricing Coalition (TAPP)) and lower the tax on vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, legumes, and other plant-based (protein) sources. Work towards taxes at the source, among others by researching the true costs of animal-based products.
B. Reward frontrunners and review the law for payroll tax: employers whose canteens meet the Healthy Eating Environment Guidelines (Richtlijnen Gezonde Eetomgeving) from the Dutch Food Centre and provide cheap and free work lunches run into problems with the current law (from 1964). Revising this law would encourage frontrunners and support catering companies which already meet the 50/50 balance of animal-based/plant-based eating patterns.
C. Restrict advertisement on animal products, starting with a ban on the sale of meat below the cost price or at a minimum a ban on meat-promotion (“kiloknallers”); ban advertisement on animal products that do not meet the Dutch Food Centre Guidelines (Schijf van Vijf); and put an end to the EU promotion programmes for meat and dairy, which connects to the goals of the Farm to Fork Strategy. Join or support organisations that already focus on this.
D. Stimulate business: bottom up. A legally established upper boundary for food suppliers – such as grocery stores, caterers, and the hospitality industry – in terms of supply, advertisement and promotion of animal products; Facilitate Green Deals or Self regulatory agreements with food suppliers and chain organisations around supply, advertisement and promotion.
E. Introduce legislation on indirect food waste and responsible land use. Connect food waste to the protein transition. Ensure the most efficient and large-scale way to reduce food waste and promote efficient land use by introducing legislation that states that livestock/animals can only be fed with residual flows or are only allowed to graze on land where nothing other than grass can grow.
Focus on the connection between healthy and sustainability, agriculture and food, consumption and production in policy: The Ministries of LNV, VWS, EZK, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties (BZK)), and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken (BuZa)): acknowledge the protein transition as a cross-cutting theme; acknowledge the relevance of both the production and consumption side; and the need for a move towards a circular perspective, i.e. ‘production for healthy eating patterns’; and work together on the protein transition.
Focus on the food environment in the approach to the protein transition: Our food environment (availability and promotions) is the biggest determinant of our eating behaviour. Therefore, the focus should not be on education and information, but on adapting the environment (availability and promotion), in which we as consumers make food choices, so that the healthy and sustainable (and thus plant-based) choice also becomes the easy and affordable choice.
Safeguard progress and results: By monitoring and benchmarking (as stated in the submission letter of the Ministry of LNV to the House of Representatives) to ensure transparency over the current situatuion and to determine which adjustments need to be made to meet the goals.
Develop a ‘roadmap’, set up an implementation plan, and encourage coalition formation for execution. Based on power maping and transition theory, to ensure the realisation of the protein transition goals. This should take place in a dialogue with the relevant ministries (at a minimum LNV, VWS and Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate) and other relevant stakeholders. Stimulate the bottom-up creation of coalitions while identifying one organisation to coordinate the process. .
The government should lead by setting the example: in sync with prior agreements, such as the National Prevention Agreement, on central government catering. Tighten the Governement Healthy Catering Guidelines (Overheidsniveau Gezonde Catering) based on far-reaching ambitions for the protein transition, for example: make all the central government’s catering vegetarian and all menus completely plant-based by 2022 and adjust the Healthy Eating Environment Guidelines (Richtlijnen Gezonde Eetomgeving) from the Dutch Food Centre (Voedingscentrum) accordingly. Join existing initiatives that stimulate this. For example, ensure that all government catering participates in the National Week Without Meat and Dairy yearly. Following this, exapnd agreements to regional and local governments.
Formulate concrete targets for the protein transition in relation to consumption and the food environment (billboards, offer and promotion): Include a timeline, argumentation and indentifying responsible parties. Embed the ambition (vision + goals) in policy and translate these to relevant policy instruments.
Define a clear vision: start by formulating a clear vision: from 60/40 (animal-based/plant-based) consumptionto 40/60 by 2030; with an interim goal of 50/50 by 2025.