European politicians call for plant-based food by default at COP26

Cauliflower Steaks with Herb and Spice on Baking Tray
Cauliflower steaks, photo: Olga Miltsova via Canva

Calls for the organisers of the upcoming UN climate conference in Glasgow to serve plant-based food are getting louder, with the latest coming from Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

Seven MEPs have asked the 26th UN Climate Conference (COP26), held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November, in a letter to serve plant-based food by default. 

If the ‘plant-based by default’ idea were adopted by the summit, attendees would be offered only plant-based foods unless they requested meat or fish beforehand. 

“People can still opt for a piece of meat, but it will not be forced upon them anymore,” said MEP Anja Hazekamp. She added that the switch to plant-based by default would help reduce the summit’s carbon footprint. 

The concept of plant-based by default was developed by HenriĆ«tte Prast, a behavioural economist and senator for the Party for the Animals, a political party in the Netherlands. 

“Meat consumption is significantly smaller in places where the default menu has no animal products,” Prast said. “How a choice is presented influences what people choose, and this effect is huge,” she added.

In September, more than 50 NGOs called on COP26 to offer only plant-based foods. The NGOs included Humane Society International, World Animal Protection, Animal Equality, ProVeg International, and the RSPCA.

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