Blog: The transformation of the meat industry: From polluted beef to meat substitutes

Redactie SDGs on Stage - 17 Dec 2019

Geschreven door: Fleur Kauffeld

2400 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of beef. That is the same as not taking a shower for six months. This is just one of the facts about meat production that a lot of people don’t know about. The sustainable development goals were introduced by the UN as goals that represent problems which are found around the entire globe and its population. The meat industry includes five of the seventeen development goals: Responsible consumption and production, zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, climate action, life on land. It’s not easy to apprehend that an industry that contains five of these development goals in its production process has some problems. 
When we make sure that these five development goals are reached, then the world will change for the better. One of the solutions that makes sure that people eat less meat is meat substitutes. Meat substitutes provide the appearance and taste of meat products but are comprised of non-animal food sources. Meat substitutes are often made of ​soy​, wheat, or beans​. This alternative for meat could just be one of the solutions to make sure that these five development goals are getting better.  
We went to the creativity world forum, because we wanted to get information about this challenge: ​“How might we get people to chose meat substitutes over traditional meat more often.” 
The goal we set for ourself for this day was to get insights from a lot of people from all different kinds of backgrounds and roots. The reason it was important for us that we got feedback from people from different parts of the planet was, because this way you get a lot of variation in opinions. Everyone is brought up in different cultures and develops different opinions which could be useful to gain knowledge about our challenge.  
Some feedback from people was that there needs to be more awareness about the environmental impact of the meet industry. The reason we think this is important is because we found that there are still a lot of people in the world that do not even know that meat production is bad for the environment. This is of course the first step towards a solution, you need to create awareness from people. One example is a girl that wanted us to help to find a solution for our challenge. She comes from Kenya and she was not aware of the fact that the meat industry creates huge pollution. She told us that she didn’t knew, because priorities in Kenya are not in the way food is produced but more that most people in Kenya just want to have food every evening. Now is it important to be said that Kenya is not a country that creates much of this pollution, so the solution shouldn’t be sought there, but it could help that these people too, know that meat production has a bad impact on the climate. Together we need to make sure that there is going to be change, and that is only possible if everyone knows about the problem. Another thing that the girl from Kenya said is that she thinks that meat includes protein that she needs. She wasn’t aware of the fact that people don’t need meat in their daily system.  

Another insight we gained was from a man we spoke to who comes from India. He was aware of the problem and knew that is was going to be very difficult to give us one solution, but he did have feedback from his experience in India. He told us that he thinks that in India people don’t think about the consequences of meat production, because people in India are brought up with the idea that meat is necessary for there daily routine. The reason, he told us, this was the case is because this idea is embedded in Indian culture. You see, India is a country were culture is still very active and important in India, and won’t do things that are not in line with their current cultural ways. The man from India said that celebrities are very important and looked upon in India. He said that one popular man in India spoke out that he was vegetarian, and that a lot of people followed him. So his conclusion was that if we want to make sure that a lot of people are getting inspired to eat less meat, we need to involve celebrities.  
I think it is clear by now that our challenge has not yet, and maybe never, got an indefinite solution. But there is a solution we can draw from our day at the creativity world forum. Every part of the world has different cultures and habits. One solution may help in India but won’t work in the U.S.A. and that goes for pretty much every solution we have heard. We think it is important that the different regions in the world use feedback from the communities and people that live in those regions to find the solution that works best for them. In India the solution could be getting celebrities to become vegan in the hopes that others will follow there lead, and in Kenya it may be creating awareness about the problem, and making sure people know that you don’t necessarily need meat to be healthy. Meat substitutes could now be a solution of the problem in more western parts of the world. But in regions were the focus is more on just having food every evening, meat substitutes still have a long way to go. 

Foto: Adobe Stock

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