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Does Being German Mean You Have to Eat A Lot of Meat?

From the Guardian; Schnitzel off the menu as Germans are told to cut down on eating meat.

Germany's federal environment agency has issued a strong advisory for people to return to prewar norms of eating meat only on special occasions and otherwise to model their diet on that of Mediterranean countries.

Germans are among the highest meat consumers in Europe, obtaining around 39% of their total calorie intake from meat and meat products, compared with 25% in Italy.

"We must rethink our high meat consumption," said Andreas Troge, president of the UBA, the government's advisory body on environmental issues.

Most interesting to me was the reaction of Edmund Geisen, agricultural adviser to the liberal Free Democrats. "Andreas Troge should stop trying to damage the nation's appetite by discrediting agricultural production," he said, calling his attack on meat "populist and one-dimensional". "Our enlightened consumers should decide for themselves what they want to eat."

Of course, this begs the question behind any effort from above--by either scientific or government authority--to change people's diets. Will people listen to someone who tells them what to eat, and should they? If we are to side with Mr. Gelsen and individual choice,  we must ask: Is it truly "enlightened" to have a diet that is bad for the planet? (and for you...40% meat?. In one part of the article, they even bring up gender, something that I have always thought influenced meat consumption in the US: "For too many, eating meat is too closely connected with manliness."

Going back to earlier posts about food traditions and culture, I wonder if the German government's directive to reduce meat consumption "and otherwise to model their diet on that of Mediterranean countries" was perhaps a mistake. Making people feel that they have to change their identity in order to eat more mindfully seems like a sure-fire way to alienate an audience you want to get on board with a fairly big change in perspective. (40% meat?) A better angle might have been to urge shoppers to take pride in the growing German organic agriculture movement and include more of the high-quality vegetables available in their country.

Hat tip: PB&J Blog

Tags: Europe, Meat reducation, Reducing meat

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