Three burgers a week: that’s the maximum amount of meat Europeans should get used to eating, according to NGO Greenpeace, which has been looking at Europe’s eating habits. EURACTIV France reports.
Europeans devour 1.58 kg of meat per week, which has serious effects on the climate. Among Europeans, the French are the 6th-biggest meat consumers, chomping through 83 kilos per year per person. By comparison, the Spaniards eat more than 100 kilos of meat, while Bulgarians only eat 58 kilos.
The world’s leading medical journal, The Lancet, recommends that in 2050, people should be consuming a maximum of 300 grams of meat per week, for both health and climate reasons. “A diet rich in plants and seeds has real health and climate benefits,” the journal writes, arguing that a predominantly vegetarian diet will also feed 10 billion people.
NGO Greenpeace goes so far as proposing a law that aims for a 70% reduction of meat consumption by 2030, accompanied by an 80% reduction by 2050.
A diet that harms the environment
Europeans consume a far high amount of milk and meat compared to the global average, and eat twice as much as the rest of the world. This diet has serious consequences for the climate because of cattle’s methane emissions. On top of that, cattle also emit CO2 emissions from the cereals they eat.
When it comes to soy imported from South America, a cereal whose cultivation is largely responsible for the degradation of the Amazon rainforest, the carbon balance of dairy and meat products skyrockets.
No concrete solutions at EU level
However, in the European Commission’s proposed “farm to fork” strategy, the EU executive only acknowledges the overproduction and overconsumption of meat and dairy products but does not propose any concrete solutions.
According to a report published by the British Ecological Society on Sunday (8 March), and supported by 36,000 scientists, the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is being used in favour of agriculture that optimises yields, at the expense of biodiversity and the environment, but also of the climate.
It, therefore, calls for an in-depth overhaul of the mechanism, with CO2 emission reduction targets that are transparent and clearer than the current ones. It also envisages less funding directed towards industrial animal farming.
Livestock farming heavily subsidised
Currently, between €28 billion and €32 billion is spent in subsidies each year for livestock farming or the production of fodder and cereals for livestock, which represents more than half of the budget for European agriculture (€58.4 billion).
Greenpeace is, therefore, also asking the European Commission to take this issue more seriously, given that two-thirds of the European agricultural area is currently taken up by livestock farming, contributing to water pollution.
(Edited by Benjamin Fox)