Cape Town has become the first city in Africa to officially endorse one meat-free day a week.
The campaign by Compassion in World Farming (South Africa) was unanimously endorsed by the city's Health Portfolio Committee.
Said Tozie Zokufa, South African representative for Compassion in World Farming: "It is a triumph. We started negotiating with the City Health Committee last December. Their decision yesterday to work with us on this issue is not only a triumph for human health, but also for the planet and animal welfare too."
Cape Town's impressive move follows similar action by the Belgian city of Ghent to reduce meat consumption. The massive modern scale of factory farming harms animals, people and the planet:
- In factory farms, animal welfare is not a priority. Animals live cramped and miserable lives in cages, crates or sheds.
- Animal agriculture produces an estimated 18% of the global greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity
- Industrial animal agriculture uses large amounts of precious global grains and soya, fed to the animals to make them grow faster, 'meatier' or produce more milk. Producing these crops contributes to deforestation and pollution of air, land and water. It uses large amounts of water, mostly to grow the crops
- About one billion people in the world do not have enough to eat. Raising fewer farm animals on a more natural diet (for them) would free up land for crops for human consumption
- At the same time, more than one billion people in the world are overweight, with at least 300 million obese. Over-consumption of meat can fuel the obesity crisis and increase risk of heart disease and certain cancers
- Factory farming can lead to rural unemployment and put small-scale farmers out of business, unable to compete.
Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer for the UK government, has said: "Our diet is warming the planet. It is also damaging our health." He estimated that reducing meat consumption by 30% could prevent 18,000 premature deaths every year.
Too often in wealthy nations, policy-makers are desperately seeking technical fixes to this crisis - so-called 'solutions' which too often mean yet more harm to farm animals. Compassion believes that quicker and easier progress could be made if those nations with a diet heavy in meat and dairy choose to reduce their consumption.
Well done to Cape Town!
Eating the Planet, our joint report with Friends of the Earth, found that there can be enough food for all without factory farming.
Read Compassion CEO, Philip Lymbery's blog article Eating less meat saves lives.