A climate plan that suggested Brits could eat less meat has been deleted from the government website after being uploaded by mistake.
The 56-page document had suggested “a producer-facing carbon tax” could be slapped on beef and lamb.
And it proposed the government “normalise” plant-based food by offering more of it in hospital, school, prison, court, civil service and military canteens.
Officials would have been encouraged to “target those learning to shop and cook for the first time, such as students.” And it could have seen a behavioural campaign to portray eating less meat as a “desirable social norm”.
The document was uploaded to the government’s website yesterday as part of a Net Zero strategy and badged with the logo of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
But there was one problem - the government had already rejected the advice and it was never adopted as government policy.
A Government spokesperson said: “This was an academic research paper, not government policy. We have no plans whatsoever to dictate consumer behaviour in this way. For that reason, our Net Zero Strategy published yesterday contained no such plans.”
The document, titled Net Zero: Principles for successful behaviour change initiatives, was drawn up by the Behavioural Insights Team.
Formerly the Behavioural Insights Unit, the team is now run outside government.
It said plant-based foods could become “the default choice in school or government public canteens and events.”
“Timely moments for diet shift will include targeting those learning to shop and cook for the first time, such as students,” it added.
And it suggested policy could “normalise plant-based food by integrating it through menus and shops rather than in ‘special’ aisles”.
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It went on: “Asking people directly to eat less meat and dairy is a major political challenge, though positive framings and smaller asks may be possible (e.g. learn one new recipe).
“Evidence suggest highlighting health co-benefits can be more appealing than purely environmental messages (which can be more moralistic, and less self-interested).
“Effort to win ‘hearts and minds’ may be better spent building public support for bold policy, such as a producer-facing carbon tax on ruminant products.
“It will be important to maintain a narrative of genuine fairness to maintain public support. For example, an unsophisticated meat tax would be highly regressive. Moreover, narratives must avoid alienation of mainstream dietary choices, or demonisation of the livestock sector, which will ultimately be the solution rather than the problem.”
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