Good News: The first two countries creating national plans for plant-based eating – Denmark and South Korea

Popular Korean brand selling all plant-based products. Credit: Dongwon F&B

By Elise Nam, Alliance Intern from Barnard ’24

During Chuseok, a three-day Korean holiday celebrating the mid-autumn harvest, my family and I routinely visited my relatives while living in Korea. My great aunt would prepare a massive feast of traditional Korean food. Additionally, whenever I visited my grandparents in California, I was constantly eating Korean food – except our routine chocolate chip pancakes. Since moving to the US and now becoming vegan, I have found creative alternatives to make the nostalgic Korean meals I’ve grown up eating. It’s exciting that plant-based initiatives are going global

World history was made when Denmark and South Korea became the first countries to launch national plans for plant-based food systems. Denmark published a 40-page roadmap to boost plant-based food production. South Korea’s plan will create a research center for alternative foods and utilize domestic agricultural production to create plant-based products. Both plans are vital steps to decarbonizing and creating a more ethical and sustainable food system. 

These launches come at a pivotal time as we face unprecedented climate change. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 14% of emissions come from meat and dairy products.

The Korean Rural Economic Institute found that 2022 became the first year historically in which meat consumption surpassed rice consumption. However, the aging population has increasingly become aware of the health effects of meat consumption. Further, Millenials and Gen Z in a neighboring country, China, found that “a survey conducted by ProVeg’s China office has already found that the country’s Generation Z is very open to eating plant-based foods,” and “nearly 20% of people who responded to that survey said they were already ‘flexitarian.’” 

In addition to expanding research for plant-based alternatives, Denmark is investing in training plant-based chefs. Both initiatives could create 27,000 new jobs in the plant-based food sector. Additionally, a study performed by the University of Copenhagen found that Denmark could save about $1 billion in healthcare costs by switching to a plant-based food systemJacob Jensen, Denmark’s Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, says “Plant-based foods are the future.”

While I enjoy getting creative in the kitchen, Korea’s new plan and incentives for vegan businesses make eating my favorite meals even easier

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