Humane Society International/Europe is working hard to reduce the consumption of animal foods in the European Union.
Consumption of animal foods in the European Union
Worldwide, more than 77 billion land animals were raised for meat, eggs, and milk in 2013 alone. Of this, the EU raised 8.3 billion land animals for human consumption—approximately 16 per EU citizen per year—with the UK and France accounting for more than one billion each.
Europe is one of the highest meat, dairy, and fish consuming regions in the world, second only to North America. The EU is responsible for 16 percent of the world’s meat consumption. The EU is also the second highest meat producer in the world, behind China and just ahead of the USA.
Numerous academic studies have documented the detrimental effects of our high levels of animal consumption on our health and environment. Within the EU, animal agriculture accounts for 12.8 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A reduction in the consumption of animal products could also decrease the incidence of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and obesity.
Aside from this, there is the moral question of treating animals, recognised in the EU Treaties as sentient beings, as agricultural commodities. During their often short lives, farm animals suffer myriad assaults to their physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and are typically denied the ability to engage in their species-specific natural behaviours.
By reducing consumption of animal foods, we can make a huge difference. In the U.S., the number of animals killed for food dropped by 400 million between 2007/2008 and 2014.
HSI actively participates in EU legislative activity in a number of ways, from drafting parliamentary questions and proposing motions for a resolution, to drafting amendments to relevant parliamentary reports and resolutions. HSI also responds to European Commission consultations on subjects varying from climate change to food waste.
Public procurement has a significant impact on the consumption of animal foods in the EU. HSI is a registered stakeholder in the revision of the European Commission’s Green Public Procurement in Food and Catering, which is carried out by the Joint Research Centre. HSI is working to ensure that the revised criteria reflect the need to increase availability of plant-based foods and decrease animal foods in public institutions.
The European Parliament’s Sustainable Food Systems Group
HSI works closely with the European Parliament’s Sustainable Food Systems Group, an informal cross-party initiative of Members of the European Parliament, which is committed to tackling unsustainable food system practices across the food chain and developing appropriate policy solutions.
Learn more and take action
For more information on meat-free eating, please see our HSI Guide to Meat Free Meals.