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Go Vegan Scotland Encourages Scottish Government to Introduce Measures Designed to Promote Access to

Scottish Consultation on Diet, Weight and Health

In October 2017 the Scottish Government opened a consultation on proposals for improving diet and weight in Scotland (“the Consultation”):

The Consultation closed on 31 January 2018. Go Vegan Scotland made a submission, which is quoted below. It is our hope that the Scottish Government will give serious consideration to the studies we referred to and to the potential benefits (in terms of health, the economy, the environment and of course for non-human animals) of adopting our proposals. We have invited Scottish Government representatives and advisors to attend the first conference in Scotland on Plant-Based Nutrition for Medical Professionals on 30 June 2018 in Glasgow (for details of that event see: ) We very much hope that they will take us up on this.

While Go Vegan Scotland is a vegan advocacy group focused on the rights of non-human animals and the promotion of veganism as the way in which we recognise those rights, there is clearly an intersection between:

(1) veganism;

(2) the nutrition and health benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet;

(3) the environmental benefits of transitioning from using animals as commodities to growing food, and

(4) a number of related human rights including: access to food and accurate information on nutrition, health and animal rights; worker rights and food poverty.

In recognition of that intersection, Go Vegan Scotland made a submission to the Consultation focused on the food and health issues that have been raised. We did not focus on animal rights, as the Consultation questions do not lend themselves to that and responses focusing on those issues are likely to be disregarded as off topic. We did note, however, that adopting our proposals would not only be incredibly positive in terms of health, but also in terms of the environment and animal rights. We will be making submissions to other consultations opened as part of the Good Food Nation project, some of which are likely to allow for more of a focus on animal rights.

The Consultation sits as an element of the Scottish Government’s Good Food Nation project, which includes a vision for what we should aim to achieve by 2025:

The vision of the Good Food Nation is described as:

“Our aspiration is that Scotland is a Good Food Nation, a country where people from every walk of life take pride and pleasure in, and benefit from, the food they buy, serve, and eat day by day. This will require a step change and mean that:

  • It is the norm for Scots to take a keen interest in their food, knowing what constitutes good food, valuing it and seeking it out whenever they can.

  • People who serve and sell food – from schools to hospitals, retailers, cafes and restaurants – are committed to serving and selling good food.

  • Everyone in Scotland has ready access to the healthy, nutritious food they need.

  • Dietary-related diseases are in decline, as is the environmental impact of our food consumption.

  • Scottish producers ensure that what they produce is increasingly healthy and environmentally sound.

  • Food companies are a thriving feature of the economy and places where people want to work.

  • Other countries look to Scotland to learn how to become a Good Food Nation”.

The Consultation on improving diet and weight sits within this broader project. As this Consultation does not touch on the environmental objectives mentioned in the Good Food Nation vision, we hope that there will be a consultation on the environmental aspects in due course.

The Executive Summary for the Consultation on diet and weight set the scene:

“This consultation document proposes a range of action to improve diet and weight in Scotland. It draws on experience of implementing the Obesity Route Map, the learning from tackling other public health challenges such as alcohol use and smoking, and a growing body of evidence on the action necessary to improve the health of the whole population.

Tackling obesity has already been identified as a priority in Programme for Government with key commitments to limit the marketing of food high in fat, sugar and salt and provide more support for people with type 2 diabetes to lose weight. In launching the consultation, the Government announced funding of £42 million over the next 5 years to expand these services.

Other proposals include:

  • action on junk food advertising

  • action on food purchases for consumption outside the home

  • preventative services including information, advice and support for children and families on healthy eating

  • practical support for small & medium sized food manufacturers to reformulate and develop healthier products

  • a range of opportunities for people to be more active

  • working with the public sector and a wide range of partners to support local improvement work on diet & weight

We want to hear the views of a wide range of stakeholders on our proposals, the priorities, implementation, and - looking ahead - what more should be done. The evidence on how best to tackle obesity continues to develop so we regard this as a progressive plan of action on which we are open to new ideas and thinking.”

Taking all of this into account, our submission focused on highlighting the body of research supportive of the health benefits of a plant-based diet, and the measures the Scottish Government could introduce to improve access to good quality whole plant foods for everyone in Scotland. Alongside this we recommended measures that would ensure that everyone has basic food preparation skills, and that we encourage community projects and urban farms, including in our most impoverished areas. We also provided a body of research that indicates the link between consuming animal foods and ill-health and recommended the promotion of plant-based eating, including by ensuring that whole food plant-based options are available as standard in all of our public institutions.

Please share this information with your MP’s, medical professionals and any other interested parties, in order that we can encourage those with input to consider the available evidence in support of a whole foods plant-based diet.

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