Growth, Brexit and plant agriculture

| 18th February 2019
Alternative agriculture production methods in the UK are now vital, and will be discussed at a conference in London this April.


A farming conference will address the implications of the rise in plant-based food for the environment, land use and Britain's farmers.

The Grow Green conference, held at the British Library in London on 11 April, will explore how a plant-strong future can help meet climate change targets and what policies might support a transition towards it.

It will see the launch of research findings from the Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard Law School, modelling alternative agriculture production in the UK.

Organic farmer

The research will show the impact of a shift to plant-strong farming on national food sovereignty, protected forest and heathland areas, and carbon sequestration.

Louise Davies from The Vegan Society, which organised the event, said: “The interest in plant-based foods has increased exponentially in recent years. Alongside this, scientists and academics are confirming that we need to be reducing our consumption of animal products.

“This important conference will discuss the implications of changing diets for food production, our land and the environment, and will explore what challenges and opportunities this presents for British producers.

“The Vegan Society is keen to collaborate with the agriculture sector and to ensure that Britain’s farmers can benefit from the rise in plant-based eating.”

Attendees will hear from former animal farmers who have moved on to plant-based agriculture, including Colm O'Dowde, organic farmer Iain Tolhurst, and Jay Wilde, whose story features in a Bafta-nominated film, 73 Cows.

The trio will address the many questions surrounding why and how farmers can move away from animal agriculture and look for opportunities in the plant sector.

Agricultural sector

Several other topics will be covered in panel discussions, such as political barriers to plant-strong production; making the best use of land in the UK; and ensuring the demand for plant-based products is met by production.

Keynote speakers include Dr Helen Harwatt, Farmed Animal Law and Policy Fellow at Harvard University; Natalie Bennett, former leader of the Green Party; and Marcela Villarreal, director of South-South cooperation at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Dr Helen Harwatt, who will launch the Harvard study at the conference, said: "The science is clear and consistent about the need to reconfigure food systems to fit within environmental limits, while also addressing a myriad of public health issues.

"The change needed to our current use of agricultural land in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5ºC and tackle the wildlife crisis is vast and unprecedented.

"The good news is that solutions exist to help address these issues simultaneously. Our forthcoming research demonstrates an opportunity for the UK agricultural sector to lead the way."

Partners for the conference include energy company Ecotricity, publication The Ecologist, Pulses UK, and the Processors and Growers Organisation.

This Article

This article is based on a press release from the Vegan Society. 

To read more about the conference, access the programme and speaker information or make a booking, visit Early bird tickets are available at £40 + VAT until Friday 15 February. Day delegate passes are £55 + VAT. Refreshments and lunch are included with both passes.

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