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September 28, 2015

EU Policymakers Urged to Take Steps to Reduce Meat Consumption

Humane Society International/Europe

  • Kathy Milani

Animal protection and sustainable food NGOs will join forces with Members of the European Parliament to give EU policymakers food for thought this Tuesday during The Free Lunch event in Brussels.

In addition to serving up a delicious plant-based menu to MEPs, EU officials and members of the public outside the European Parliament, the organisers will be explicitly calling on the European Commission to develop a meaningful strategy towards achieving a sustainable food and farming system in the EU, including the introduction of an EU target to reduce the consumption of animal products by 30 percent by 2030. The Free Lunch is a collaboration between Humane Society International/Europe and its NGO partners - Compassion in World Farming, Beyond GM, Food for Life Global – as well as the European Parliament’s Sustainable Food Systems Group.

As Dr Joanna Swabe, executive director of HSI/Europe, notes:

“Both EU policymakers and citizens need to start facing up to the rather inconvenient truth that our current levels of meat consumption are completely unsustainable. For the sake of animal welfare, the environment and our own health and well-being, it is essential that we do not delay in taking steps to moderate our consumption of animal products. The Free Lunch is not only an opportunity to promote the pleasures of plant-based foods, but to also to urge the European Commission to develop a meaningful strategy towards achieving a sustainable food and farming system in the EU.”

Please support our efforts to help farm and other animals.

HSI/Europe believes that it is vital for the Commission to produce guidelines on what constitutes a healthy and sustainable diet, including the need to reduce consumption of animal products for health, environmental and animal welfare reasons, and to encourage such guidelines to also be adopted at a Member State level.  HSI/Europe is calling for the inclusion of language on the reduction of animal-based foods in the Green Public Procurement guidelines, which are currently under revision.

Humane Society International encourages people to practice the 3 Rs of eating: reducing the consumption of animal-based foods, refining the diet by avoiding animal products derived from factory farming, and replacing meat and other animal-based foods with vegetarian options.


  • A Communication on Building a Sustainable European Food System, which had been agreed on by three former European Commissioners during the last Barroso Commission, was politically blocked and never saw the light of day. The Juncker Commission has since applied the 'principle of political discontinuity' to the document.
  • While EU citizens account for approximately seven percent of the world’s population, they are responsible for 16 percent of the world’s meat consumption. In 2013 alone, more than 8.3 billion land animals were raised for human consumption in the EU, with the United Kingdom and France accounting for more than one billion animals each.
  • Within the EU, animal agriculture accounts for 12.8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. A 2014 study found that reducing by 50 percent all EU consumption of meat, dairy and eggs could bring those emissions down to much more sustainable levels. 
  • A 2014 study found that a 50 percent reduction in the consumption of beef, dairy, pork, poultry and eggs in the EU would free up 75 million tonnes of cereal, and soymeal imports could be reduced by 75 percent.
  • According to a Twente Water Centre report on the green, blue and grey water footprint of farm animals and animal products, an average of 4,325 litres of water is required to produce 1 kg of chicken, whereas less than half of that is needed to produce 1 kg of cereals.
  • Studies show that individuals who eat a plant-based diet, on average, have lower body weights, decreased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Media contact:
HSI: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org, +44 (0)7989 972 423

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