According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the world consumption of meat and dairy products is going to increase exponentially in the upcoming years. In the face of this demand, the current industrial model of food production is set to raise more and more animals, increase productivity and decrease the final price to consumers.
Who’s paying the true cost of this industrialised system? Produced by ActionAid, Compassion in World Farming and Slow Food, the Too Much At Steak guide takes a closer look at meat, and what consumers can do to avoid this situation. EU citizens consume an average of 232 grams of meat each day, a total of 85 kilos per capita per year. For a healthy diet, the recommended amount is around 630 grams a week, meaning that each European is eating for 2.5 people. Such an excessive consumption has heavy costs not just for our health and for the environment, but also in terms of animal welfare and farmers’ livelihood.
Animal farming throughout the world has become increasingly intensive to meet this demand, with significant consequences. With regards to the environment, it has caused serious soil and water pollution, land and water depletion and, ultimately, global warming. FAO estimates that livestock production is responsible for 18% of the greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. Animal welfare in its holistic sense – physical health and wellbeing, mental wellbeing and ability to express natural behaviours – is not a primary consideration of standard industrial farms, which have become factories for meat and milk production. ‘Factory farming’ prioritises maximum production above all else and animals are treated as commodities, often raised in intense confinement and subject to routine mutilations like tail docking and beak trimming.
The pleasure that food can bring is being undermined by the harm, hunger, damage to human health and animal welfare concerns caused by the intensive production model. But, through our choices, consumers have the power to redirect the market and production. Too Much at Steak provides a few good practices that can be applied to everyday life, when shopping, at home or in restaurants. These small changes can contribute to improvements in farming and farmer’s livelihoods.
By committing to eat less meat, eat good quality meat from animals with a high quality of life and to pay a fair price, reflective of the true cost of production and one that values the animal’s life, we can continue to eat meat. There’s simply “too much at stake” to continue down the path we’re on.
Download the English guide: Too Much at Steak