fleischatlas 2013

Fleischatlas – Meat atlas: The impact of unscrupulous carnivorousness

I never liked meat. Lucky me! because as eating a lot of meat is considered to be unhealthy and unsustainable, I can now feel morally superior without having to make sacrifices. 😉

In the beginning of January, Le Monde diplomatique, BUND and Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung published the ‘Fleischatlas‘ (= meat atlas), a very interesting read for vegetarians, flexitarians and carnivores. And like in all other Le Monde diplomatique publications there are loads of colourful graphs and maps.

Here are some of the findings I found most insightful:

  • When it comes to eating meat, there is a considerable difference between developing and developed countries: On average, people in the industrialised countries eat 79,0 kg meat per person and year, whereas people in the developing and emerging markets can only afford 32.7 kg. (World average: 42.5 kg)
  • 85% of all Germans eat meat on a daily or almost daily basis. The average German eats about 60 kg/ year. German males eat more meat than females, East-Germans eat more meat than West-Germans.

Deutscher Durchschnittsverbrauch Fleisch

  • The production of meat requires much more water than the production of other foodstuff.
    Some examples: 1kg meat: 15,455l // 1kg cheese: 5,000l // 1kg rice: 3,400l // 1kg wheat: 1,300l // 1kg potatoes: 255l // 1kg carrots: 131l
  • The production, transportation and consumption of meat causes more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than of wheat, vegetables and fruit.:
    1kg beef: 27kg GHG // 1kg cheese: 13.5kg GHG // 1kg pork: 12.1kg GHG // 1kg chicken: 6.9kg GHG
  • According to the Worldbank (IAASTD), 70% of the agricultural land worldwide are used for livestock husbandry (pasture land + feed production). More than 40% of the global corn production is feed to animals.
  • German farms produce 17% more meat than consumed here, but more than 2/3 of the German agricultural land is used for feed production. As this is still not enough, almost 1/3 of the animal feed has to be imported, mainly genetically modified soy from latin american countries (e.g. argentina, brazil, paraguay). — And now we have uncovered the connection between a German schnitzel and the on-going destruction of the rain forest, the world’s green lung and CO2-storage.

“In addition to the energy transition, we are in urgent need of an agricultural reform.”
Hubert Weiger, BUND (my translation)

Imagine a world, in which eating cheap meat from factory farming wouldn’t be a status symbol. In which people would eat less meat but meat of better quality, meat which has been produced under humane conditions, without the excessive use of antibiotics.
Imagine farmers who would only keep as many animals as they could feed on their own land.

Imagine cows grazing, chickens sand bathing, pigs digging for roots.
In such a world, and if I liked meat at all, I could imagine to be a flexitarian – a veggie with benefits. But in the world we currently live in I am a proud and confident, but not very dogmatic and missionary vegetarian. 🙂