In a visionary move, Sweden's authorities have set out draft guidelines asking people to reduce their carbon footprint by eating less meat. The guidelines are quoted as saying: "Try to exchange one or two meat dishes a week against vegetarian meals or decrease the quantity of meat."
It is reported that Sweden is sending its guidelines to other European countries to gauge their reaction - it will be very interesting indeed to see what reaction they get!
Our modern massive scale of meat and dairy production and consumption has harmful consequences for farm animals, the environment and for human health:
- We already slaughter 60 billion sentient farm animals a year for our food and that figure is predicted to double by 2050. The majority of the world's pigs and chickens are already confined in factory farms. If we insist on increasing production, we condemn many more farm animals to lives of misery.
- Animal agriculture produces nearly a fifth of the global greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity - more than all the world's transport. It is a heavy polluter and user of the world's precious resources of grain and water.
- Increasingly, health experts are saying that a plant-based diet is better for your health. The World Cancer Research Fund advises a mainly plant-based diet low in red meat and avoiding processed meats.
A clear and positive solution is for wealthier countries to eat less meat and dairy. But until now, national authorities have been reluctant to give their populations this kind of message.
Sweden's move follows the recent announcement of 'Veggiedag' in Ghent, Belgium, where residents are encouraged to have a meat free day on Thursdays.
In September 2008, leading climate change expert, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, gave Compassion's annual Peter Roberts Memorial Lecture, where he asked people to reduce their meat consumption starting with one day per week. You can see film clips and Dr Pachauri's presentation at www.ciwf.org/lecture.
Compassion in World Farming believes that cutting your meat and dairy consumption - and of course buying only high welfare products - is definitely the way forward for farm animals, people and the planet.