A leaked letter has revealed that Tesco plans to offer a meat-free alternative for every animal product sold.
A leaked letter from former Tesco CEO David Lewis to NGO Greenpeace reveals that the supermarket giant intends to offer a meat-free alternative for every animal product the retailer sells.
The letter reads: “Like you, we realise the UK needs to reduce meat and dairy consumption. Since 2018 we’ve been working with suppliers to drive plant-based innovation and choice, leading to increases in our plant-based meat alternative products”.
Lewis explained that Tesco would achieve this by “[Providing] plant-based proteins where a meat version is featured” and vowed to “publish plant-based protein sales as a percentage of protein sales from 2021”.
While Lewis is no longer Tesco CEO, his successor Ken Murphy is echoing his ambitions, reaffirming the company’s commitment to meeting meat reduction targets. Moreover, Murphy recently announced the goal of increasing plant-based meat alternative sales by 300% by the year 2025.
This means that in just four years, we could see a plant-based meat alternative adjacent to every animal meat product on Tesco shelves.
While this news is music to every vegan’s ears, it has not gone down well with British animal farmers.
A National Farmers’ Union spokesperson said: “It’s crucial people are making informed diet decisions based on accurate information; when people buy British meat and dairy they are buying sustainable, local food, produced in areas often where it is difficult to grow other foods.
“The same cannot always be said for some highly processed meat alternatives.”
It is ironic that the National Farmer’s Union should mention ‘accurate information’, considering the recent advert by the UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is packed with misinformation.
Firstly, the advert manipulates the viewer into thinking 100% of British farmed animals only eat grass. This is simply untrue. In fact, 73% of livestock animals are factory farmed in the UK, and not grass-fed as the advert insinuates.
Secondly, the advert claims that meat and dairy contain ‘essential nutrients our bodies need to help us stay healthy’. Again, the exact opposite is true. Meat and dairy have been shown to increase our risk of certain cancers and heart disease – two of the biggest global killers. Moreover, it is possible to find all your ‘essential nutrients’ in a plant-based diet, meaning meat and dairy are certainly not necessary for good health.
‘Our food system needs an overhaul’
Greenpeace has also hit back at the comments, explaining: “Our meat consumption is far beyond what our planet can cope with.
“We can’t just shift from industrial chicken and pork fed on Brazilian soya to UK beef, our food system needs an overhaul. We need a rapid shift to an agro-ecological farming system in the UK with policies that protect farming jobs and nature, tackle food poverty and produce less but better quality meat.”
Despite protestations from the farming industry, it is apparent that this move from Tesco is necessary, and will help to create this food system overhaul that we so desperately need to mitigate climate change.