Home » Plant Based Diet and Climate Change – Public Belief in the Climate Emergency, a UN Survey

Plant Based Diet and Climate Change – Public Belief in the Climate Emergency, a UN Survey


UN Recently conducted a climate change survey.

The most popular solutions for climate change were conserving forests and lands. It is  followed closely by more renewable energy. A significant majority of high-income countries supported reducing food waste. The poll’s least popular of 18 policy suggestions was switching to a plant-based diet. Only 30% of respondents supported it and did not attract the majority of public support in any country. The UK (43%), and Germany (44% respectively, had the highest support.

The most globally popular climate policies were four:

  1. Conservation of forests and land (54% support from the public)
  2. Solar, wind, and renewable power (53%)
  3. Climate-friendly farming techniques (52%)
  4. Green businesses and jobs (52%)

The report stated that balanced diets include both plant-based and animal-sourced foods. Plant-based foods are as legumes, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Where as animal-sourced food, offer significant opportunities for adaptation and mitigation. While it also generating significant benefits with regard to human healthcare.

UNDP did not provide any definitions of plant-based diets. But the survey found that people who scored low on the adoption score for plant-based diets. This did not necessarily mean they were against the policy. It stated that “This could provide an opportunity to further educate on these topics.” These options may not be well known in some countries. 

“Some people might feel that diet is more personal than something that can be promoted.” Steven Fisher, Oxford University Professor, said. “The report speculates that education to increase awareness of the importance plant-based diet is an issue.” 

The Vegan Society described the results as “hugely positive” for the vegan movement. It stated that many of the climate solutions included in the poll cannot be achieved if they are implemented together. Moreover, promoting plant-based diets is one way to unlock many other solutions. A spokesperson said that Conserving Forests and Land was a good example of this.

“Consumers continue buying meat because they like eating meat.”

The UK’s Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), said that the finding was due to individual preferences. A spokesperson for Food navigator stated that consumers continue to purchase meat because they love meat. 

“They recognize the clear health benefits it offers to their diets and are rightly shying away from plant-based diet promoters.” 

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has launched a PS1.5m TV campaign called “Eat Balanced“. This is  encouraging more British households and individuals to continue to eat meat and dairy as part a balanced diet.

We Eat Balanced infographic

A spokesperson for AIMS stated that “Furthermore we believe that consumers are questioning globalised plant-based-brands’ green credentials. Campaigns such as AHDB’s Eat Balanced have shown that British Meat Processors Association has indicated that responsibly produced meats and dairy will play a significant part in increasing awareness. This awareness is about the real impact different foods have on consumers’ health and the planet.

A spokesperson for UN said that the new UN survey showed that people would rather make changes to their lives than eliminate meat and dairy. 

“And as they realize that sustainable livestock farming can help to combat climate change. The choice between these natural whole foods or the new ultra-processed, plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy will become more straightforward,” a spokesperson said.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that replacing meat with a less environmentally friendly processed plant-based option could lead to consumers being unaware of the fact that they are creating the opposite effect. We also worry about climate change. A well-managed livestock herd on pasture is one way to sequester carbon in soil. The only way to make it sustainable would be to not eat meat and other animal products.

Further reading

Plant Based Diets

Whole Food Plant Based Diet

Plant Based Diet Masterclass

Plant Based Recipes

Download Whole Food Plant Based Recipes ebook

Order Plant Based Tiffin Service in Bangalore