The new war between Ukraine and Russia calls for demand-side action: Fewer animal products, less waste, and green agriculture, this means that Governments and institutions call on producers and consumers to encourage the consumption of vegetable proteins, which will generate growth in the production of legumes.

Farmer organisations in Brussels asked for such policies. They also used the war and respective crisis to push against eco-friendly solutions and attacks on the Farm to Fork Strategy.

The best option however to reduce food prices, would be if the EU would announce a reduction of meat consumption by 25% by the end of 2022 and 50% by 2025, to make space for grain production for human consumption instead of grains and soy for animal feed and meat consumption.

190 scientists have asked the EU in an open letter for a massive reduction of animal foods to allow the production of more grains for human consumption, together with two other policy responses: more legumes and less food waste. The letter was published on Friday by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

The question is how meat consumption levels could be reduced. The True Animal Protein Price, a coalition of European NGO’s, including farmers, food companies, youth groups and charities, ask for fiscal incentives for ‘true pricing of meat’, including external environmental costs.

The TAPP Coalition sent a letter to EU Agriculture Ministers and EU Commissioners asking for a 25% reduction in meat consumption, together with a 25% cut in the production of fodder in the EU for meat, dairy and eggs. This will result in 16 million hectares in the EU that can be used for cereals and oils for human consumption, replacing the loss of Ukraine cereal production.

The EU Commission can give incentives to EU farmers to seed more ‘summer cereals’ like wheat for human consumption this spring, to be harvested this summer, in stead of cereals and oil seeds for animal fodder.

In other statement signed by more than 250 experts from a number of countries, the scientists propose three levers for coping with the short-term shocks while also ensuring human health and long-term sustainable development:

  1. Accelerating the shift towards healthier diets with less animal products in Europe and other high-income countries, which would reduce the amount of grains needed for animal feed ;
  2. Increasing production of legumes and further greening EU agricultural policies, also to reduce the dependency on nitrogen fertilizers or natural gas from Russia;
  3. Reducing the amount of food waste, since for instance the amount of wheat wasted in the EU alone is roughly equivalent to half the amount of Ukraine’s wheat exports.
Other governments such as Canada and Australia are committed to encouraging these changes in food to achieve sustainability goals, which means one more push for legume producers, an item that grows year after year and increasingly becomes an actor key in world food.