THE HAGUE - The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate removed the advice to eat less meat from its 'Everyone does something' campaign to raise awareness about climate change and changes individuals can make to fight it. This was done in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, because the subject of eating less meat is too "politically sensitive", animal welfare organization Wakker Dier discovered in documents obtained through the Public Access Act, the Volkskrant reports.
The 'Everyone does something' campaign, launched in 2019, gives citizens tips on how to lower their environmental footprint, including information on insulating their home, walking or cycling instead of driving to close destinations, and installing a heat pump. When it comes to food, the campaign recommends eating seasonal foods and reducing food waste. But it says nothing about meat consumption.
"We thought that strange," Anne Hillhorst of Wakker Dier said to the newspaper, because it is a well established fact that the consumption of animal proteins is a major contributor to global warming. The organization therefore requested documents around the establishment of this campaign. It found that the campaign was supposed to include the advice to eat vegetarian twice a week. But in April 2019, this advice was removed at the initiative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. "We do not want to explicitly communicate 'less meat'," because this is "politically a very sensitive topic", the Ministry wrote in an internal communication.
Cowardice by choosing the safe path, according to Wakkerr Dier. "Eating less meat is one of the best things consumers can do themselves to combat global warming. We find it worrying that a government does not dare to say this to its citizens. There's a lobby behind this," Hillhorst said to the newspaper.
PvdD parliamentarian Frank Wassenberg said he was shocked by this revelation. "The facts are that meat production emits a lot of CO2 and that you can contribute to combating climate change by eating less meat. If the Ministry thinks that is political at all, that is alarming."
The government-funded Nutrition Center has less meat at the top of its list of recommendations for more sustainable eating. "We also put it forward as a point for the campaign," a spokesperson said to the Volkskrant. "But they didn't use it. A missed opportunity. By eating 100 grams less meat per week, you already reduce your environmental impact by 7 to 10 percent." According to the Nutrition Center, Netherlands residents are eating more meat than is good for them in any case, at about 900 grams per week for men and 600 grams per week for women, while 500 grams per week is sufficient.