The independent report, commissioned by the Government in 2019 and published last week, sets out recommendations to build a better food system for a healthier nation. The plan includes the follow changes to the national diet by 2032 (compared to 2019):
- 30% less meat
- 30% more fruit and vegetables
- 50% more fibre
- 25% less foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar
Jimmy Pierson, director of ProVeg UK, who were consulted by the National Food Strategy team in the creation of the report, said: “This ground-breaking strategy is a huge stride forward for school children, who can, by eating more plant-based foods and less meat, become one of its biggest beneficiaries. It also recognises the need for diet change not climate change, and how crucial a role the public sector can play in meeting the Government’s ambitious climate targets.
“The shift towards eating more plant-based foods and less meat is already in full flow in schools. We’re working with dozens of local authorities, schools and catering companies on menu changes that are being received overwhelmingly positively by children and parents.
“This strategy now offers other school food providers the opportunity to follow suit, and for the Government to accept the direction of travel towards more plant-based foods in the form of new legislation in the coming months.”
The role of meat has been placed at the heart of the strategy, playing a role in six of the 16 chapters. The report recommended a new ‘Eat and Learn’ scheme in which Government should require schools to work with accreditation schemes, such as Food for Life and schemes to provide training to catering staff such as ProVeg UK’s School Plates programme.
Only 18% of children aged five to 15 eating five standard portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Fibre deficiency can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes and several cancers.
Pierson added: “The recommendations are potentially great news for addressing childhood obesity. We know that a diet based around vegetables and fruits, legumes and whole grains, inclusive of less animal-derived saturated fat, can support children to maintain a healthy weight, lowering the prevalence of obesity.”