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Eat less meat, more plants, tell your friends

The meat and dairy industry’s relentless quest for profit is putting all of us at risk as enormous factory farms force cheap, health-threatening products into…

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We are fed up. You, me and a lot of our farmers. In Berlin, Germany, some 18,000 people just took to the streets to protest against industrial agriculture. It is clear we no longer want a food system that is dependent on pesticides, pollutes our water, uses genetic engineering, grabs land, mistreats animals and takes absolute control of the food we eat.

For the seventh time already, myself and people from all over the country defied the cold and windy German winter to speak out for a better food system. It is one of the biggest food demonstrations in Europe, but many people around the world share the same desire. It is such an inspiration to see that I am not alone, but that this demand is carried by a larger part of our society. It is a demand that our politicians can no longer ignore.

"We Have Had Enough" Demonstration in Berlin © Gordon Welters / Greenpeace

Greenpeace activists take part in the ‘We have had enough’ demonstration against factory farming and industrial meat production (cheap meat) during the ‘Green Week’, a trade fair for agriculture in Berlin. Banners and signs read: “Factory Farming: We have had enough”.

100% ‘ecologised’ agriculture can feed us all!

The good news is that change is possible. Two weeks ago Greenpeace Germany published a study on how to completely “ecologise” Germany’s agriculture by 2050 and it turns out we do not need to rely on an industrial system to feed Germany. Calculations prove that Germany’s population of an estimated 76 million people could be entirely fed with high quality food, which is almost completely domestically produced.

Produce from an Ecological Farm in Bulgaria © Ivan Donchev / Greenpeace

Konstantin Yanev is the main person responsible for the Organic Gardens Oreshak, part of the Culinary Art Institute in Varna, North-Eastern Bulgaria. He admits that when he first started his garden, the farming practices he was applying were conventional, not ecological.

We can do it – we are the change

Making the change towards an ecological agricultural system requires a strong will, as our study outlines.

A strong political will is needed to push through the necessary political measures – measures that channel subsidies into the right ecological direction, improve the livestock production and much more.

But also a personal will is needed. An essential part of changing our impact in the world is in our hands by reducing the amount of meat we eat. Industrial livestock and meat consumption are a major driver of environmental damage. Nitrate from liquid animal manure contaminates our groundwater. Livestock contributes to massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and is therefore one of the main driving forces of climate change.

Ecological Produce at Farmers Market in Paris © Peter Caton / Greenpeace

Shopping at Raspail Market in central Paris. It is one of the largest ecological markets in Paris.

Germany needs a 50% cut of meat production to achieve its climate and environmental protection goals. This means we Germans need to eat half the meat we consume today. Apart from this, our agricultural revolution will only be possible if we reduce food waste by 50% and pay fair prices to our farmers and food producers in Germany and around the world.

Dirk Zimmermann is a senior food campaigner at Greenpeace Germany.