Health conscious eating behavior is no new phenomenon. People worldwide are turning to more plant based diets to thwart health issues and diseases like high LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. There are also people adjusting their eating styles for animal justice and cruelty means. Then there are people who, for religious reasons, have limited their diets to no pork, no beef, or no meat whatsoever. Now more than ever, individuals, organizations, and governments worldwide are becoming more conscious of the health and environmental effects of meat consumption.
Earlier this month, the Finnish branch of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched a guide urging Finnish citizens to make more environmentally friendly food choices as part of the Eat Clean Baltic Sea Project. In an attempt to move away from animal agriculture, organizations like WWF claim that “vegetables imported from abroad are almost always a better choice for the environment compared to products of animal origin”. By means of promoting meat alternatives, WWF is advising you to make the environmentally significant decision of replacing some of the meat on your plate for other grains, fruits, and vegetables. Notice that this does not advertise vegetarianism or veganism. Many organizations have taken part in the movement to influence individuals to reduce the amount, but not completely eradicate, the meat they consume. Understanding that humans have close social and traditional ties to eating meat, movements and ideals like Reducetarian and Flexitarian “aim to improve human health, protect the environment, and spare farm animals from cruelty by reducing consumption of animal products.” Intent on improving quality of health, many people are ready to change their diets and it shows through their purchasing choices. Private companies have become well aware of this as well.
Increasingly so, consumers are more likely to spend more on products that are labeled organic and sustainably produced. Organic food market giants Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have successfully tapped into the market of people who are willing to pay more for better quality. The meat industry has taken notice as well. Companies like Kraft own both Oscar Mayer and Boca Burgers (meatless burger patties). Fast-food chains Johnny Rockets and Friendly’s offer vegan burger options and even Burger King promotes Meatless Mondays with Morning Star veggie burgers. Adjusting quickly to change in consumer behavior, meat-centric industries have quickly introduced meatless options and are not blind to the new world of healthy eating.
At the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) “more than 170 nations signed the Paris Agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperature rise to under 2°C.” With climate change being a reality many governments are training to face, studies have shown reduction in per capita meat supply and consumption is a practical tool in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The livestock industry causes many environmental stressors like deforestation and desertification and also threaten freshwater quality. In efforts to reduce meat consumption of their citizens to 50% by 2030, the Chinese government has invested in campaigns advocating the average Chinese person to reduce their yearly consumption of meat from 63kg to 27kg. Efforts to reduce meat consumption also reflect China’s initiative to salvage polluted groundwater and rivers.
Overall consensus seems to call for a reduced dependency on meat consumption for personal and environmental health purposes. What do you think about these reasons for reducing how much meat you eat?
Watch Arnold Schwarzenegger in Less Meat, Less Heat campaign for Wild Aid and Chinese Nutrition Society here:
Written by Iman Lynn Mamdouh