The Government’s chief food adviser has called the current debate on meat eating an unpleasant dialogue of the deaf.
Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Henry Dimbleby said: “Livestock farmers have been reduced to the role of baddies by many groups.
"There needs to be a much more measured approach to understand both the positive and negative impacts of all kinds of livestock production on human and environmental health.”
Mr Dimbleby is developing a national food strategy, with an interim report due in spring which will be discussed by a citizen’s panel of 100 people.
He also urged Government not to impose ‘gold standard’ regulations on British farmers which would encourage the import of lower quality food.
Denise Bentley, who runs social justice organisation First Love Foundation in London, said that current policy ignores the needs of the poorest in society who cannot afford food after other costs and rely on food banks.
She urged the government to include the Department of Work and Pensions in any national food strategy to ensure quality affordable food is available to all.
Taking as much of the ingredients that cause health problems such as sugar and fat out of products while retaining their appeal is the continuing aim of baker Greggs, according to its chief executive Roger Whiteside.
“People want sausage rolls and doughnuts. If you ban them, shoppers won’t naturally turn to healthier foods.
"There is a need for regulation to limit some ingredients and that can work – we signed up to reducing sugar in our products by 20 per cent by 2020 and reached the target a year early.”
Salad grower John Shropshire agreed that government intervention is needed if people are going to eat healthier, particularly if more fruit and vegetables are to be consumed.
He also called for greater government support for improving skills and training.