The meat and dairy industries in Europe have a problem. More and more people do not want their steaks, their minced meat and their chicken wings. Slowly but surely meat consumption is decreasing, and the industry is desperate to find a way to reverse this trend.
When advertising is coming to the rescue of the meat industry
Luckily, for them, they have advertising; wonderful tricks, which have been developed over many decades to influence us and lure us into buying stuff – even when it is not good for our health or for the planet. These unsolicited and flashy ads are wherever we look – on billboards, on social media and in magazines – trying to stir feelings of need and desire in us.
Business is business, you might say. We don’t have to buy what they promote, after all. That’s true. But there is one thing you should know: YOU might be paying for these unwanted ads.
The EU is spending millions of euros to promote meat and dairy
The meat and dairy industry in Europe receives millions of euros of public money every year – money that they use for promotion campaigns to “avoid the predicted drop down” of consumption growth, as they phrase it. A new Greenpeace report shows that, in the last five years, the European Union spent €252.4 million to promote European meat and dairy products – far more than they spend on promoting fruits and vegetables.
“Love pork!” “Become a beefatarian!” “Enjoy, it’s from Europe!” it says in their ad campaigns. Whether these products were produced ecologically, whether they are even healthy for the person who eats them, whether animal welfare was taken into account or not – none of this seems to matter when it comes to getting EU money to promote it.
A misuse of public money going against science
Scientists have already been telling us for years that we need to reduce meat and dairy for our health and the health of the planet. Producing and eating industrial meat and dairy puts us at risk of new pandemics, wrecks the climate and destroys nature. There are many ways to spend public money reasonably – especially in times of crisis. Spending it in complete contradiction with scientific recommendations obviously shouldn’t be one of them.
If our tax money must go into promotion and advertisement, let’s make sure it helps us to live a healthier life, with an increased consumption of vegetables and fruits, for example. Let’s also make sure it supports those who need it: small-scale farmers trying to make a living and farmers and producers who operate with ecological methods.
The trend for less and better meat is there, and we need society to support us in going forward with this option which is healthier for us and the planet.
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Nora Holzmann is the Coordinator of the European Food, Forests & Nature campaign.