Dutch government removed advice to eat less meat from climate campaign

Different raw meat on plate
Meat, photo: Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash

The Dutch government removed an advice to eat less meat from a 2019 climate campaign, according to animal welfare organization Wakker Dier. 

The campaign was aimed to make citizens more aware of the causes of climate change. Wakker Dier requested documents about the preparation of the campaign.

In the campaign Iedereen doet wat (Everybody does something), citizens are advised, among other things, to isolate their attic, waste less food and check the pressure of their car tires. 

But nothing was said about reducing meat consumption, while meat production has a major impact, Wakker Dier said.

“We wondered: how can such a crucial subject not be included in such a campaign? What happened there?” Anne Hilhorst of Wakker Dier told Dutch news radio NOS. 

“We found that it had been part of the campaign for a very long time and that it was then cancelled by order of the ministry, who said: it is a political topic, we don’t really want to talk about it,” she added.

In the documents that Wakker Dier obtained with an appeal to the Government Information (Public Access) Act, a lot of information had been hidden.

“So we do not know exactly who made that decision. We only know that it came from the Ministry of Agriculture,” Hillhorst said.

Wakker Dier will go to court to get all the documents to find out who made the decision, “whether it was the meat lobby or the ministry itself”.

From the documents that Wakker Dier was allowed to see, it seemed like officials were afraid of the reaction of the meat sector. 

“We find that very strange because it is a general government campaign,” said Hilhorst. “It’s not politics. It should be about educating citizens about what they can do for the climate, and not about political issues.”

The ministries said that they opted for “small adjustments” that make the living environment of citizens more sustainable, they said, adding that their priority was to make people enthusiastic. 

The absence of the subject of meat consumption caused a lot of commotion at the launch of the campaign in 2019. The government received hundreds of emails, messages and phone calls from citizens criticizing the lack of meat reduction. 

Under this pressure, the government still advised eating ‘more nuts and legumes’. “A weak way to discuss meat reduction,” Hilhorst said.

In 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report describing eating less meat as a major opportunity to fight climate change.

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