Does Britain really want carbon footprint food labelling?

A new study has shown widespread support for including the emissions impact of what we eat. 

raw meat on brown wooden table

According to the Vegetarian Society, which commissioned YouGov to survey the British public, more than half of all young adults believe they would eat more sustainable if carbon footprint food labelling was introduced. 

Of those aged 55 and over, 37% said they would be willing to choose sustainable eating habits if more information was provided on packaging and menus. If this is true, such a regulatory change could see a sharp decline in the consumption of some produce, with lamb and beef particularly problematic in terms of environmental impact. 

Both animals are high contributors to methane, a greenhouse gas that has been identified as a reduction priority due to its heating properties. The majority of global warming that has already occurred is believed to be down to the gas. Meanwhile, cows and sheep also require a significant amount of land to graze, with standard modern farming methods detrimental to biodiversity and a key cause of habitat loss. On top of all this, the world produces more food for animal feed than it does for humans, which adds to the overall footprint tied to livestock. 

‘Carbon footprint labelling could be a game-changer in the fight against climate change and it is heartening to see that so many young people are eager to make sustainable choices,’ said Richard McIlwain, Chief Executive of the Vegetarian Society. ‘We are therefore calling on government and food manufacturers to act urgently in rolling out clear carbon labelling on food packaging. And the survey could not be more timely, coinciding as it does with this year’s National Vegetarian Week, with thousands of people across the UK signing up to try great tasting, low carbon veggie and plant-based foods’.


Image: Edson Saldaña


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