Slow Food launches the worldwide campaign Meat the Change to change people’s meat-eating habits

14 Jan 2020 | English

The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of reducing meat consumption, the associated benefits for the environment and human health, and to support the farmers who raise animals in harmony with nature, with respect for animal welfare and ecosystems.

Today Slow Food launched the Meat the Change campaign, with the aim of reaching people all over the world, thanks to its network of activists in 160 countries and the support of its organizational structure.

The campaign aims to encourage people to reflect on the consequences of their food choices.

How Slow Are You? is the title of a quiz on eating habits, which asks social networks users to answer multiple choices questions like “How much meat do you eat each week?” and “What criteria do you use for choosing meat when you shop?”. Based on the final score, the users are judged to be more or less “slow” and receive advice to improve their consumption habits.

But what exactly does “being Slow” mean?

It means eating less meat, of better quality. Sustainable farming guarantees quality meat because it puts the welfare of the animals first, leaving them free to move around in open pastures and feeding them with organic feed. “Being Slow” also means having a lower environmental impact: sustainable farming contributes to the reduction of deforestation, land use, desertification. It can help to save biodiversity and improve soil fertility. A lower number of animals, when raised on pastures, has less impact on the climate. In this sense, the campaign promotes an environmentally- and climate-friendly lifestyle, starting with a lower consumption of meat, and of better, slower meat.

The over-consumption of meat from intensive, industrial livestock farming is a serious problem, as demonstrated by numerous studies and surveys. According to the FAO, the livestock sector is responsible for 14.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions, while one third of the world’s cultivated land is used to produce the billion tonnes of feed required to feed these animals: mainly soy and maize monocultures. Then there are the water resources required: 23% of our globally-available fresh water is used for livestock farming. The intensive farms have also a strong impact on ecosystems in terms of pollution from livestock manure and methane emissions. The animals that live and die in this system are considered as nothing more than simple meat machines, with no regard for their welfare or the distressing conditions in which they live.

The ultimate result is the production of cheap, poor quality meat that has a negative impact on public health, which contributes to antimicrobial resistance and to an increase in cancer and heart diseases.

If global annual meat consumption doubles between now and 2050 (as the FAO has predicted), from over 250 million tonnes of meat to 500 million tonnes, the system will collapse.

“The global industrial farming model forces us to deal with unsustainable environmental and social costs. We need to rethink our consumption in order to imagine a better future and consumer choices are crucial to influence and direct the market supply. However, the solution is not to remove meat from our diet, because a good way of breeding—good for the environment and good with animals—is  essential for good agriculture and quality meat. This is why we need to support those who practice sustainable animal husbandry, often taking care of marginal areas and saving biodiversity, like the many farmers who keep local breeds,” comments Ursula Hudson, member of the International Executive Committee of Slow Food. “The campaign is called Meat the Change, with a play on words that invites us to change the meat in our diet while at the same time inviting us to embrace the change. Through more careful consumption choices, we can indeed become protagonists.”

The Meat the Change campaign has been developed in collaboration with Meatless Monday, a non-profit initiative whose goal is to reduce meat consumption by 15% both for our health and the health of the planet.

Slow Food Press Office

Paola Nano, Giulia Capaldi

[email protected]

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