50by40's 'Hot Topic' Discussion Series

Food systems are complex, diverse, and multisectoral – and so are the solutions to fix it.

50by40’s ‘Hot Topic’ Discussion Series seeks to enable informed discussions on how we can make our food systems more just, humane and sustainable by facilitating conversations based on impartial facts and evidence.

There is an urgent need to transform our broken food system and transition to a more humane and sustainable one. Such a transition requires, among other things, a rise in public awareness about the impacts of a broken food system and the potential benefits of a thriving food landscape.

Food systems are complex, diverse, and multisectoral – and so are the solutions to fix it. At 50by40, we believe that this plethora of solutions is not only a blessing, but a necessity for a globally oriented food solution. Diverse problems of inequity, climate change, hunger, nutritional security and labour rights translate into solutions and debates that can often be divisive and polarising.

The ‘Hot Topic’ discussion series is a specifically designed dialogue space to enable discussion on concrete issues and diverging opinions around transforming our modern food systems.

The series is a way to understand the complexities of a sustainable and humane food system by providing a safe space for our partner network to be able to discuss contradictory perspectives explicitly and, wherever possible, explore the potential for common grounds.

The series was launched at 50by40’s 4th Strategic Annual Partner Gathering 2022, and we hope to continue the series into 2023.


Each dialogue centres around one thematic question, for example, Food Innovation: Does cell-based meat promise an ideal food system for the future? Two guest speakers with subject matter expertise or first-hand knowledge gained through lived experience then present their knowledge and research on the given topic. Speakers share the theories of change behind their ideology and present science and data-based evidence to support their position. The debate is moderated by an experienced facilitator using guiding questions from 50by40 that will identify points of alignment, disagreement, and, more importantly, overlaps that push participants towards nuanced consensus. The facilitator will serve as a neutral third party to prevent any perceived bias. The debate will then be followed by a timed question & answer period from the audience, and closing thoughts.

HOT TOPIC DIALOGUE 1: Rebuilding Food Systems: The Alternative Protein Market vs Voices for Food Sovereignty

Our current food system presents pressing public health, environmental and animal welfare concerns. The alternative protein market seeks to remedy that by providing a quick, economically viable and taste-first alternative to the problem of animal protein. On the other hand, the food sovereignty movement recognises food as a right and hunger as a problem of food governance and injustice. Can a market solution that doesn’t keep farmers at the heart of its change really work? Can focussing only on the local food systems be a solution? Hear both sides of the argument from our experts below:

Discussion 1


Varun Deshpande
Varun Deshpande, Managing Director at the Good Food Institute India
Ajay Vir Jhakar
Ajay Vir Jhakar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj (Indian Farmers Forum)

Key highlights from the discussion:

1. Varun: “Reallocation of industrial agricultural land for reforestation, regenerative agriculture etc. is required, but needs to be made simpler in order to counter meat’s entrenched place in most cultures.”

2. Ajay: “Innovation doesn’t address process issues and systems breakdown. We need to focus on reduction targets.”

Discussion 2


Richa Thapliyal
Richa Thapliyal, Vice President of Production Research and Operations at Rebellyous Foods
Astrid Milena Bernal Rubio
Astrid Milena Bernal Rubio, Coordinator, Unsustainable Livestock Campaign, Global Forest Coalition

Key highlights from the discussion:

1. Richa: “Alternate proteins are a viable solution in the face of a climate emergency, which buys us time to work towards a better future.”

2. Milena: “The best way to promote change is not to promote new structures but to work with existing ones”

Would you like updates from 50by40?

All fields are required.