At the end of 2022, Taiwan’s Meat-Free Monday organization announced it succeeded in inviting over 100 political candidates for Taiwan’s 2022 election to sign its Veg-Friendly pledge.
After a few months, the group took further action for its political campaign and launched Taiwan’s first Earth Day march on April 22, to raise awareness concerning the importance of sustainable, plant-based diets, to the government and the public.
The march attracted more than 2,000 members of the public along with more than 160 organizations, 2 legislators, 8 city/county mayors, and chairpersons from county and city councils, meaning a total of more than 40 influential politicians responded in favor of the adoption of sustainable diets.
The host of this event, Chang Yu-Chuan, organizer of Meat Free Monday Taiwan, pointed out that adopting a sustainable meal for one day can reduce carbon emissions by 2.4 kilograms a day per person. The impact of a one-day plant-based diet for all Taiwanese is equivalent to 4,866 1600cc cars circumnavigating the earth.
Legislator Chen Shuhua emphasized that the Legislative Yuan passed the climate bill in January this year and went on to host the first-ever public hearing regarding the sustainable diet issue in the Legislation Yuan on May 18th.
Taiwan’s first public hearing for plant-based policy change
The first public hearing was held on May 18th in Taiwan’s parliament concerning adopting sustainable plant-based diets in response to climate change. There were nearly 40 non-governmental advocacy groups including the Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, and the Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) also participated.
The hearing conducted reviews and policy recommendations for various government departments that responded to climate change but ignored the promotion of low-carbon plant-based diets.
Ten conclusions and actions from the public hearing were agreed:
- Request the Council of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Administration to propose a plan for “shifting to alternative proteins” within two months, including planning, indicators, schedule, budget, collaboration, and government integration.
- Request the Council of Agriculture and Ministry of Health and Welfare to propose a mileage reduction plan for meat and milk diet within two months, considering national conditions and referencing British Climate Change Committee recommendations.
- Request the Council of Agriculture to propose promotion plans for “animal welfare” and “climate and food education” in food and agriculture education within two months, including indicators, schedule, funding, and collaboration.
- Request the Council of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Administration to propose plans for farmers to obtain carbon rights within two months, assess the carbon footprint of organic and conventional crops, and encourage low-carbon plant-based food consumption.
- Request the Environmental Protection Administration to discuss social, economic, and industrial uses of Greenhouse Gas Management Fund’s designated sustainable and healthy diet, and submit a planning report within two months.
- Request the Ministry of Education to submit a report on promoting “Campus Sustainable Low-Carbon Veggie Day” within two months, including food waste reduction measures.
- Request the Ministry of Health and Welfare to cooperate with the Ministry of Education to implement healthy plant-based diet education, approved by plant-based nutritionists, and submit a written report within two months.
- Request Environmental Protection Administration to re-evaluate the “Carbon Footprint Information Network” or establish “Food Carbon Footprint Database” based on “Food and Drug Administration’s Food Nutrient Composition Database,” and submit an assessment and planning report within two months.
- Request the Ministry of Health and Welfare to discuss adopting plant-based dietary guidelines to replace daily dietary guidelines within two months.
- Recommend the National Development Council, Financial Supervisory Commission, Environmental Protection Administration, and Ministry of Economic Affairs to discuss the feasibility of including carbon reduction benefits of diets in corporate ESG indicators and sustainability reports.
The founder of this public hearing, Dr. Ching-Fen Pai, the Executive Director of Taiwan’s Sustainable Diet Research Institute, pointed out that the sixth climate change assessment report published by the IPCC in March this year has revealed clearly that the world needs to accelerate its pace of climate action, starting from socio-economic changes. According to this report, Dr. Pai suggested that if the government adopts the SSP1 (sustainability) policy, there are more opportunities to reverse the situation. The IPCC also made it clear that starting from the individual level of diet, adopting the food strategy of sustainable and healthy diets (all plant-based) has the opportunity to reduce carbon emissions by 44% by 2050.
Dr. Pai further stated that although Taiwan revised the Climate bill this February, and formulated 12 key strategies for Taiwan’s 2050 net zero emissions recently, it did not mean the relevant regulations and policies are unchangeable. She suggested that amendments to regulations and policies still need to keep pace with the times and conduct rolling reviews in reflecting on climate change. It was an important mission for policymakers to improve the status of sustainable and healthy diets in response to the latest reports and situations. Only by working simultaneously from the social, economic, and industrial levels can it be possible to optimize and truly realize the goal of sustainable development.