Meat Atlas

An Atlas of Meat

Everything you need to know about meat in one great publication writes Vicki Hird

If there is one report to read in 2014 this is it.  The Meat Atlas is a highly accessible new guide providing the facts and figures about the animals we eat.  Its 26 topics and 80 graphics range from water pollution to gender equality; from obesity to antibiotics uncovering a wealth of statistics and global connections.

Its core message is we need a radical rethink of the way we produce and consume meat and dairy. Our industrialised production systems are untenable, since they depend on scarce land and water resources, and pass on hidden costs to consumers, taxpayers and the environment.

The hidden costs of our meat eating

The amount of public money (in Billion dollars) spent in 2012 by industrialized countries (OECD members) through direct subsidies for animal products and feed.

Source: OECD

Animals slaughtered worldwide 

Source: official and estimate data, 2011, heads, FAOSTAT

There is another way

Yet it doesn’t have to be this way; there are alternatives as the report and this short Friends of the Earth policy briefing illustrates. Livestock can lessen poverty and enhance equality and many initiatives show what a different type of meat production might look like – one that respects environmental and health considerations and which provides appropriate conditions for animals. Consumers are already choosing to eat less and better meat in many parts of the world.

As Magda Stoczkiewicz, Director of Friends of the Earth Europe, says in her introduction:

"This publication sheds light on the impacts of meat and dairy production, and aims to catalyse the debate over the need for better, safer and more sustainable food and farming.

“We hope to inspire people to look at their own consumption, and politicians at all levels to take action to support those farmers, processors, retailers and networks who are working to achieve change. We as a species need to be smarter.”

Friends of the Earth is a founder supporter of Eating Better alliance, which recognises the major roles for the food industry, consumers and governments.

The UK Government must acknowledge the need for urgent action and set up a strategy which will set targets for sustainable diets, research mechanisms to help the changes to happen, and provide clear guidance and standards to promote eating less and better meat.

The debate for better, safer and more sustainable food and farming has already begun, if you want to join in and find out more about meat production around the world, take a journey through the Meat Atlas.


Vicki Hird is Senior Campaigner with Friends of the Earth.  You can follow her on twitter @vickihird

The Meat Atlas is published by the Henrich Böll Foundation and Friends of the Earth Europe.


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