18 January 2014

Meat Atlas: an uncompromising picture of meat in the world, with some reasons for hope

Friends of the Earth Europe and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung publish the "Meat Atlas - Facts and figures about the animal we eat" that presents some essential data on meat in the world. The objective of the Atlas is to sensitise a broad public on the issues related to meat production and consumption. The Atlas demonstrates that decisions taken regarding consumption of meat (quantity, species, origin) have a considerable economic, social health and environmental impacts. It presents information that allows to better understand the impact of our meat consumption and to orient our behaviour towards a more responsible consumption.

The Atlas criticises the orientation taken by our food system, demonstrate its perversity and provides arguments in favour of a total reorganisation of the food and agricultural system.

The main lessons drawn by the Atlas are inspiring and can be summed up in a few key sentences:

  1. Our diet is not just a private matter

  2. The environment could easily be protected if we consumed and produced differently

  3. The middle classes around the world consume too much meat

  4. High meat consumption leads to the development of industrial agriculture

  5. City dwellers are those who contribute most to the increase in meat consumption

  6. Small-scale producers, the poultry sector and the environment suffer most

  7. Intensively produced meat is not healthy

  8. Small-scale livestock can make an important contribution to poverty reduction, gender equality and a healthy diet

  9. Eating meat does not have to damage the climate and the environment

  10. Different types of producing meat exist

  11. Change is possible and it is possible to adopt more sustainable and healthier ways of consuming and producing.

The Atlas reviews some fundamental issues: concentration and homogeneisation of production; industrial slaughtering and processing; development of more complex value chains and of cold chains; consumer protection and the potential danges of the forthcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement for European consumers; subsidies for animal production; loss of biodiversity; pollution by nitrogen; excessive use of antibiotics; impact of livestock industry on water, crop production and deforestation in Latin America where a soy empire is emerging.

A very interesting read illustrated by multiple high quality maps, graphs and diagrams.

Let’s hope that this Atlas will also be publish soon in other languages than just English so that it can be read by a much larger public.


To know more:

  1. -Heinrich Böll Stiftung et Friends of the Earth Europe, The Meat Atlas, Facts and figures about the animals we eat, 2014

  2. -Mona Chalabi, Meat atlas shows Latin America has become a soybean empire, The Guardian 2014


Last update:    January 2014

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