The Climate Change Committee (CCC) commissioned a report by the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST), in which it makes a series of recommendations to encourage people to eat less meat and more plant based foods.

One of the key topics in the report is diet change, in which it is suggested that by making plant based options “more visible and the default in supermarkets and restaurants”, policymakers may achieve a reduction of meat in people’s diets.

The report suggests that rather than a particular vegetarian or vegan diet, consumers are more interested in simply achieving a balanced diet. In it, the Committee claimed that many people are already reducing their meat and dairy consumption.

The issue of sustainability is also addressed, with the report stating that ‘green’ labels actually have relatively small effects on consumer behaviour. However, it is suggested that companies revealing their environmental impact to consumers may be holding themselves accountable and influencing how green the manufacturing process becomes.

Farming and livestock farming trade bodies responded to the report, with Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) spokesperson Tony Goodger stating that: “Supermarkets and restaurants will always sell and promote what consumers wish to buy. We already see many of the meat alternatives sold in highly ‘visible’ packaging and in some circumstances alongside fresh meat on the fixture.

“Surely this already provides the plant-based options with the visibility that the report recommends.”

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said: “We agree with the ‘less but better’ axiom, and would apply it to both animal and plant-based foods.

“If political or social engineering drives people to make what they think are more environmentally friendly choices by steering them away from natural, nutritious whole foods towards unhealthy, highly processed substitutes, then a decline in public health will be an unwelcome unintended consequence.”

This comes as the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to scrap meat tax policy ideas and stricter recycling measures.