Not to be outdone by the Danes, South Korea will next month put into action a plant-based strategy designed to wean the country off meat and encourage a more environmentally friendly approach to food. And its young meat reducers will be driving the change.
Denmark’s action plan for greener eating was hailed as “internationally groundbreaking” when it was announced last month. It was specifically aimed at encouraging other countries to follow suit … and South Korea’s ministry for agriculture, food and rural affairs revealed its own scheme just days later.
It means the government in Seoul will begin promoting healthier and more sustainable alternatives to meat and encouraging citizens to fill up on less planet-damaging protein – so full speed ahead on the vegan dumplings, veggie bibimbap, no-beef bulgogi and fish-free kimchi! The plan to turbocharge the plant-based sector is scheduled to be rolled out in December and, like Denmark’s, will mean increased funding for research and export.
As everywhere else in the world, young people in South Korea are the most clued-up about the causes of, and possible solutions for, a climate crisis they are least to blame for but that will hit them hardest. Hungry for change, they are set to put a rocket under alternative proteins, with those in their twenties and thirties helping the rapidly growing domestic market hit 280 billion won (£174 million) by 2026, according to the Korea Institute of Rural Economics.
After a shocking report in 2020 revealed that most countries, including the UK, are failing their people by not promoting plant-based food in dietary guidelines, and in several cases advising that they eat more red and processed meat than is good for them, despite the increasingly well documented cost to human and planetary health, it is good to see two countries now in the vanguard of a plant-based crusade that has the meat and dairy industry so worried it is turning the political screw and adopting Big Tobacco tactics to stamp out.
But the health and environmental imperatives of cutting meat consumption are as stark as the financial rewards are impressive, so it makes sense that the likes of Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Canada are making moves in a similar direction. Will it be a case, to paraphrase Louis XV, of “Après eux, le déluge”? It’s over to your country to find out …