What is the Plant-Based Treaty and why should we care?
If you follow environment or climate-related news, you might have heard that Haywards Heath near London was the first town in Europe to endorse the Plant-Based Treaty. Eighteen cities around the world have now endorsed this treaty—but what is it?
Putting food systems at the heart of combating the climate crisis
As a companion to the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement, the Plant-Based Treaty initiative is a grassroots campaign designed to put food systems at the forefront of combatting the climate crisis. Modeled on the popular Fossil Fuel Treaty, the Plant Based Treaty aims to halt the widespread degradation of critical ecosystems caused by animal agriculture and promote a shift to healthier, sustainable plant-based diets.
There are three parts to the Treaty:
Demand 1: Relinquish
Stop the problem increasing
No land use change, including deforestation, for animal agriculture
- No building of new animal farms
- No building of new slaughterhouses
- No expansion or intensification of existing farms
- No conversion of plant-based agriculture to animal agriculture
- No conversion of any land for animal feed production
- No clearing of forests or other ecosystems for animal grazing, animal rearing or animal farming of any kind
- No new fish farms or expansion of existing aquaculture farms
- Protection of Indigenous peoples; their land, rights and knowledge
- Ban all live exports
- No new large-scale industrial fishing vessels
Demand 2: Redirect
Eliminate the driving forces behind the problem
Promotion of plant-based foods and actively transition away from animal-based food systems to plant-based systems
- Declare a climate emergency—join the 1,900+ local governments in 34 different countries that have already done so
- Place food security as a priority for all nations, with a focus on ending poverty and hunger and making nutritious food accessible for all
- Acknowledge and support the pivotal role small farmers have in feeding the planet; support them to maintain (or restore) autonomy over their lands, water, seeds and other resources
- Prioritize a switch to plant-based foods in Climate Action Plans
- Update government food and dietary guidelines to promote whole, plant-based food
- Design public information campaigns to raise awareness about the climate and the environmental advantages and health benefits of plant-based food, nutrition and cooking
- Aim to reduce the public’s consumption of animal-based food through education in schools
- Transition to plant-based meal plans in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and government institutions
- Mandate honest labelling of food products, including cancer warning labels on all processed meats, which were declared carcinogenic by the World Health Organization
- Introduce a meat tax (including fish) with proceeds funding restoration of land destroyed by animal agriculture
- Subsidize fruits and vegetables to make a whole food, plant-based diet more affordable and end food deserts that hurt low-income communities
- Redirect government subsidies for animal agriculture, slaughterhouses and industrial fishing to environmentally friendly production of plant-based food
- End government-subsidized advertising for the meat, dairy and egg industry
- Create green bonds to fund a transition to a plant-based economy
- Provide financial support and training for farmers, ranchers, and fisherpeople to move away from animal production and toward diversified (ideally organic agro-ecological) plant-based systems
Demand 3: Restore
Actively healing the problem while building resilience and mitigating climate change
Restore key ecosystems and reforest the earth
- Reforestation projects to be rolled out in appropriate ecosystems, using native tree species to restore habitats to a previously similar state
- Prioritize reforestation and restoration of the oceans by designating additional areas of the oceans as zero fishing Marine Protected Areas (known as Highly Protected Marine Areas, or HPMAs)
- All existing Marine Protected Areas should be declared strictly no fishing zones and converted to HPMAs
- Active programs rolled out to replant critical carbon absorbers in the oceans, such as seagrass beds
- Restore key degraded ecosystems essential for carbon sequestration cycles: mangroves, peat bogs, forests, some types of grassland
- Focus shift on nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation
- Subsidies made available for farmers and landowners who practice good land stewardship and are actively restoring the land and the associated ecosystem services (such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity, flood defense, general climate change resilience)
- Subsidies made available for rewilding and reforestation projects
- Incentivised subsidies or grants for farmers to switch from animal agriculture to diversified plant production
- Cities: increase trees and wildflowers, increase green community projects, wildlife corridors, green rooftops, local growing schemes, work towards biodiversity increases
- Enhance food justice by providing access to healthy food for all, especially low-income communities of color
- Repurpose available land freed up from animal grazing and animal feed production for rewilding, reforestation (if appropriate), returning land to Indigenous people, nature reserves, hiking zones, community growing, allotments (if appropriate), agro-ecological food growing (where possible)
- Shift of some land ownership into community hands so the land can be repurposed for reforestation, green space and community food gardens and allotments
Who can sign the Plant-Based Treaty?
The organization urges scientists, individuals, groups, businesses and cities to endorse this call to action and put pressure on national governments to negotiate an international Plant Based Treaty. Whether you’re an individual or a business owner, you can endorse the plant-based treaty and encourage others—including your city’s government—to do the same.
BReD has signed the treaty because we believe we must all do our part to combat climate change. In Whistler, BC, we are reminded every day of the beauty of nature we fight to preserve. As a vegan bakery, we have already taken steps to reduce animal agriculture by baking all our products with plant-based ingredients and supporting various environmental organizations like Trees for the Future.
Visit plantbasedtreaty.org to learn more and to sign the treaty.