Policy framing of the protein transition in Dutch governmental documents from 2007 to 2018
MetadataShow full item record
The current Dutch food system is unsustainable, as it contributes to climate change and biodiversity loss and creates challenges in animal welfare and public health. To decrease the environmental impact of diet and to stimulate public health, a protein transition is proposed: switching from a diet focused on animal-based protein towards a diet more focused on plant-based protein could lead to less environmental impact and better public health. Governmental policies could help to stimulate this complex transition. The development of policies has a strong cognitive component, as policy makes’ perceptions of the protein transition determine what policy is formed. These perceptions are studied using framing theory. Understanding these perceptions can give insight into what frames can help to successfully achieve this protein transition and how frames are used to make sense of this complex transition. In the Netherlands, the protein transition was placed on the governmental agenda in 2007, after a report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) linking climate change to meat consumption. Therefore, this research investigated the following research question: How has the protein transition been framed in Dutch governmental policies in the period between 2007 and 2018 and what are the implications for policy making? To research this, 169 policy documents published between 2007 and 2018 were analysed and 21 semi-structured interviews were held with policy makers, politicians, researchers, advisors from governmental research agencies and other relevant stakeholders. It was found that the problem was mainly framed as the ecological (un)sustainability of the livestock industry, and the solution was framed as making production in livestock industry more sustainable and investing in innovation of novel proteins. This indicates a focus on the production side, and a lack of focus on the consumption side. The vision of the future is framed as holistic sustainable production of animal-based products and becoming a global leader in sustainable production/circular agriculture. The responsibility for enactment is framed as a shared responsibility for the whole chain, however it seems that the consumer is hardly included in this responsibility to change. Although several policy initiatives have been implemented between 2007 and 2018, there has not been a system change in the way protein is produced and consumed in the Netherlands. The implementation has been mainly focused on improving the production side of protein, with a strong focus on animal-based protein rather than plant-based protein.