Spaniards must eat less meat, says minister

by Deborah Cater

In his campaign, Minister Garzón of Consumer Affairs asks Spaniards to eat less meat. His video message infuriated the meat industry and Spaniards alike, and created tensions within the government.

“Eating too much meat is bad for health and for our planet.” Those are the words in a video message from Spain’s Consumer Affairs Minister Alberto Garzón. In his latest campaign, the minister aims to reduce the meat consumption of all types of meat.

In Spain 70 million animals slaughtered every year

Garzón defends his position with numbers. Science shows 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock, especially macro farms. In addition, 15,000 litres of water are needed for one kilogram of beef. In Spain, more than 7.6 million tonnes of meat are produced annually by the slaughter of some 70 million animals. Moreover, the faeces of cows and pigs cause more pollution than cars, Garzón claims.

Spaniards should eat more healthily

For these reasons, according to the Spanish minister, it is necessary for Spaniards to change their diet. Garzón also refers to the advice of the Spanish Food Safety Agency (Aesan). Aesan recommends people should eat a maximum of between 200 and 500 grams of meat per week.

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The average meat consumption of Spaniards is more than a kilo per week. The World Health Organisation also warns against excessive consumption of red meat. This can lead to heart attack, diabetes and other diseases.

Meat industry and Spaniards furious with minister

Although the Spanish minister points out the benefits for the health of the Spaniards and for the care of our planet, this message did not go down well everywhere. Meat producers, vendors and many Spaniards are furious with the minister.

Campaign sparks tensions within Spanish government

Garzón’s message is also causing tensions within the government. For example, Minister Planas of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food reports he was not aware of the video message from Minister Garzón. He also thinks the meat industry is unfairly singled out; these people deserve respect for the honest work they do for Spain. In addition, data shows that meat consumption has continued to decline over the past 10 years.

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