The Earthshot Prize, spearheaded by Prince William, has announced a new focus on promoting plant-based solutions to address the world’s climate crisis. Founded in 2020, the eco-initiative has been focused on five core categories: “Protect and Restore Nature,” “Clean Our Air,” “Revive Our Oceans,” “Build a Waste Free World,” and “Fix Our Climate.” For 2024, it will include a sixth category, “Advance a Plant-Based Food System.”
This move is largely in response to the determined campaigning by non-profit organization Generation Vegan (GenV), supported by a host of celebrities including Sharon Osbourne, Olivia Colman, Emma Thompson, Alicia Silverstone, Mark Rylance, and Annie Lennox. GenV’s influential campaign specifically called for the introduction of the sixth category, asserting that achieving the Prize’s five core aims is inextricable from advancing plant-based solutions.
Given the influence of Prince William and the potential of the Earthshot Prize, this development marks a milestone in recognizing and addressing the environmental impact of our food choices.
Celebrities back plant-based climate crisis solutions
Celebrity endorsements have been pivotal in this campaign. Osbourne, for instance, emphasized the alignment of this new category with Earthshot’s goals.
“Earthshot rewards people who are working to heal our planet so adding a plant-based category is a no-brainer,” Osbourne said in a statement.
Thompson also highlighted the significant impact of dietary choices on health and the environment. “The food we eat and the way it is produced is possibly the most significant way in which we impact our health and that of the planet,” she said in a statement. “That’s why I support a campaign to support people trying to create a plant-based, human, and planet-friendly food system.”
Known for her iconic starring role in Clueless, actor—and longtime vegan—Alicia Silverstone pointed out a critical gap in Earthshot’s previous approach, which did not focus on the heavy environmental footprint of industrial agriculture.
“Earthshot is missing a trick if it doesn’t address animal agriculture as a driver of multiple environmental crises,” Silverstone said in a statement. “It’s clear we need a plant-based food system, and now Earthshot has the opportunity to help deliver that.”
Prince William embraces plant-based burgers
This summer in London—prior to the announcement of the inclusion of plant-based solutions in the Earthshot Prize—the royal teamed up with YouTube channel Sorted Food to hand out veggie burgers (called “Earthshot Burgers”) from a food truck to unsuspecting passersby. The Prince also showcased the winners of Earthshot 2022.
His support of plant-based food solutions to the climate crisis was echoed by other public figures.
“Meat and dairy are having a huge and detrimental impact on our planet in terms of pollution, climate change, deforestation, and loss of wildlife,” Chris Packham, famed British television presenter, said in a statement.
“But when we eat plants, we reduce these impacts significantly,” Packham said. “We need Earthshot to incentivize a plant-powered revolution.”
Author George Monbiot—a voice at the forefront of issues related to animal agriculture and the climate crisis—also highlighted the need for the Earthshot Prize to lean into plant-based food solutions.
“We talk about fossil fuels as being a huge problem for the planet and they are. But we also need to look at animal agriculture,” Monbiot said in a statement.
“Farming animals for human consumption is land-hungry, water-hungry, and causes so many other environmental problems,” Monbiot said. “We are relying on initiatives like Earthshot to drive positive change for all of us.”
Giving the Earth a shot
The collaboration between Earthshot and GenV has led to promising developments. Earthshot has invited GenV to select sustainable food system experts to join the judging panel for the ‘Protect and Restore Nature’ category, and as Official Nominators, making GenV the first vegan organization in this role.
This move enables GenV to advocate for impactful initiatives from the global vegan community for the £1 million ($1.25 million) Earthshot Prize.
“We would like to thank Earthshot Prize for recognizing the need to elevate plant-based solutions, and taking action to ensure they are included in the 2024 awards,” Naomi Hallum, CEO of GenV, said in a statement.
“Animal agriculture is a leading driver of deforestation, wildlife loss, air and water pollution, and climate breakdown, and we need our environmental groups to be honest about the destructive nature of the animal farming industry,” Hallum said. “We believe there is still time to heal our planet, but it is absolutely clear that we have to change our food system.”
The efforts of GenV, the celebrity advocates, and Earthshot Prize illustrate the powerful impact of collaborative advocacy and the importance of integrating diverse voices in the pursuit of environmental sustainability at this critical moment in time.
“Earthshot Prize Council Member Sir David Attenborough is right when he says that the planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters, and we are grateful that Earthshot is listening,” Hallum said.
GenV is actively seeking suggestions for influential plant-based organizations to nominate for the Earthshot Prize, with the submission deadline set for November 30, 2023.
Eligible nominations for GenV should support or enhance a plant-centric food system, demonstrate measurable impact and scalability, and drive meaningful change in areas such as education, dietary transformation, policy evolution, and protein innovation. Additionally, they should contribute to the conservation and rejuvenation of natural ecosystems, including land, forests, rivers, oceans, and wildlife.
Shortly after the announcement of GenV as an Official Nominator for the Earthshot Prize, Joyful Ventures—a $23 million venture fund focused on alternative proteins—also announced its status as an Official Nominator for the prize.