The largest survey of public opinion on climate change ever conducted has found the majority of people believe the situation is now an emergency.
In terms of solutions, there is strong support for climate-friendly farming, for conserving forests and land and for making companies pay for pollution.
Wasting less food was also a more popular solution than wasting less energy.
Promoting plant-based diets was at the bottom of the list of supported solutions.
The results of the United Nations Development Program and University of Oxford survey, which involved 1.2 million people, 50 countries and 17 languages, were released in a report last month.
The report’s authors said plant-based diets failed to attract majority public support in any country.
They offered this caveat: “This might be explained by a number of different factors. First, in some countries, there are few plant-based options. In others, there may not yet be significant awareness about these options. In others, people may have felt that diet is more of a personal choice than something that can be promoted.”
Still, livestock industry commentary has honed in on the idea that consumers are not accepting the environmental claims of alternative and plant-based food promoters.
The British Meat Processors Association told Farmonline the results suggest people would rather change other aspects of their lifestyle to help the environment than cut out two of the most nutritionally important elements of their diet: meat and dairy.
The BMPA said nutrition should not be an ‘all or nothing’ issue and it advocates a balanced diet that involves all food groups.
Back in Australia, beef producers are starting to push back hard against alternative protein marketers using beef’s name, particularly if they are denigrating the real thing at the same time.
Queensland branded beef owner Sonya Comiskey, Emerald, called for a stronger focus on truth in labelling.
“Alternative proteins have been around forever and each to their own. I have no objection to people being able to choose what they put in their mouth,” she said.
“But these products can’t be misrepresented as meat. They are attempting to trade off the good name and reputation that is inherent in real Australian beef.”
Despite the consumer hurdles it appears to be facing, the alternative protein bandwagon is showing no signs of slowing up.
New kinds of not-meats are popping up on a regular basis, and attracting big investment dollars.
The latest is air protein.
According to FoodDive, ADM Ventures, Barclays and GV (formerly Google Ventures) have led a $32 million funding round for a startup that uses fermentation to make a meat alternative out of elements in the air.
The publication reported the concept is built around 1960s-era NASA research on how astronauts could convert carbon dioxide into food.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg says fast food giant McDonald’s – which is one of the largest single customers of Australian beef – has quietly begun selling its McPlant burger in Denmark and Sweden. The idea is to gather insight into customer interest before more locations roll out the meat alternative.