Third German minister calls for reduction in meat consumption
8 April 2022
Germany’s Economic Cooperation and Development Minister, Svenja Schulze, has become the third German minister in recent weeks to call upon German citizens to reduce their consumption of meat.
Germany’s Food and Agriculture Minister, Cem Özdemir, and the country’s Health Minister, Prof. Dr Karl Lauterbach, have both already called for a reduction in meat consumption. Lauterbach went so far as to say that not only Germany but the world could reduce their intake by 80%.
Food awareness organisation ProVeg International welcomes the comments from the three ministers.
“It is so important to hear the message of meat reduction from top-level politicians in Germany. The goal of ProVeg is to reduce global meat consumption by 50% by 2040, and ministers making bold statements such as these is exactly what will help us to achieve this,” Matthias Rohra, Executive Director Germany of ProVeg International, said.
Health Minister Lauterbach was speaking to popular news magazine Der Spiegel in late February when he made the call for meat reduction on the grounds of sustainability, animal welfare, and health.
The comment from Agriculture Minister Özdemir in support of eating less meat was in response to the war in Ukraine. In an interview on 18 March, also in Der Spiegel, Özdemir said that eating less meat “would be a contribution against Putin”.
Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Schulze also sees a reduction of animal products as a strategic response to the war in Ukraine and the consequent restriction of wheat supplies. Russia is the world’s largest supplier of wheat.
Speaking to the outlet RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) on 29 March, Schulze argued that if a product is scarce, consumption must be reduced. “Grain belongs first and foremost on the table – without the detour via the feed trough. In order for a slaughtered pig to provide a calorie, it must eat three calories of plant-based food during its lifetime. 60 percent of the maize produced worldwide is fed to animals. In the EU it is similar for wheat.”
In the interview, Schulze said she did not want to impose any regulations on food, but simply wanted to point out “an important connection”.
“It would help the grain supply in developing and emerging countries in the medium and long term very much if we ate less animal products in the rich countries. If we were to reduce pork production in Germany by 30%, arable land of one million hectares would be free – about a tenth of the arable land in Germany. Five million tons of grain could be grown on it. It doesn’t happen overnight. But in the longer term, this would improve the supply situation,” Schulze said.
ProVeg recently supported other NGOs in an appeal to the European Commission not to buckle under pressure to water down the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy in light of food security concerns raised by the Ukraine war.
Agricultural bodies wanted the European Commission to steer away from the Farm-to-Fork strategy by making more land available for agriculture to compensate for supply restrictions from Russia and Ukraine.
ProVeg said EU agriculture ministers should rather look towards speeding up the shift to plant-based diets and reducing the amount of grains poured into animal feed.
Researchers have found that growing food exclusively for direct human consumption, rather than as animal feed and for biofuel production, could potentially increase available food calories by as much as 70%, which could feed an additional 4 billion people.
Germans reducing meat consumption voluntarily
It seems that many Germans do not need persuasion from the Government to reduce meat anyway. A recent market insight report produced by ProVeg International found that 51% of Germans had reduced their meat consumption in the past year.
The report also found that 30% of German consumers are plant-based eaters (vegetarian+vegan), making Germany the country with the highest share of plant-based eaters among the analysed European countries. Another 30% of Germans said they identified as flexitarians.
Separately, the Federal Information Centre for Agriculture (BZL) has revealed that per-capita meat consumption in Germany has dropped by 2.1 kilograms compared to 2020.
Notes to Editors
For further information, contact Peter Rixon at [email protected]
About ProVeg International
ProVeg is an international food awareness organisation working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal-based products with plant-based and cultured alternatives.
ProVeg works with international decision-making bodies, governments, food producers, investors, the media, and the general public to help the world transition to a society and economy that are less dependent on animal agriculture and more sustainable for humans, animals, and our planet.
ProVeg has permanent-observer status with the UNFCCC, is accredited for UNEA, and has received the United Nations’ Momentum for Change Award.