Why is Eating Better fairer?

Eating Better is fairer to farm animals, is a fairer way to feed the world and gives more people a fair chance of earning a sustainable living.

Better for animal welfare

Over 60 billion animals are farmed for food every year. If meat consumption grows as predicted, that figure may double by 2050. 

Increased production of meat has led to increasingly intensive production methods, particularly for pigs and poultry. Cheap meat is invariably sourced from industrial factory farms, where the animals have a very poor quality of life. Intensive animal production systems include the selection of animals for rapid growth - leading to lameness and other physiological disorders - and the use of cages and crates or overcrowded conditions that severely restrict animal behaviour.[1]   

The regular use of antibiotics on intensive farms, particularly in pig and poultry production, to prevent (rather than treat) disease is also linked to the rise in human antibiotic resistance.[2]

Eating less meat means fewer animals reared and less pressures to intensify production.  Choosing meat and dairy products produced to high animal welfare standards means a better quality of life for farm animals.

Better for feeding the world fairly

The world already produces enough food to feed everyone, yet there are huge inequalities and not everyone has enough to eat.  According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization just under one billion people are hungry, two billion suffer from lack of micronutrients and over 1.5 billion are overweight or obese.  That means over half the world’s population are either under- or over-fed.

Oxfam’s guide to food equality, The Food Transformation advocates that a lower meat diet is essential to tackle climate change and help ensure that there is a fair and equitable distribution of food and access to water. 

The Enough Food for Everyone IF Campaign to end world hunger says eating less meat must be on the menu.

Our meat consumption has quadrupled since the 1960s and is predicted to double by 2050 to feed a growing and more affluent global population. As a result, over one-third of the global grain harvest and 97% of soymeal are used for animal feed, rather than to feed humans directly.  This is inefficient, as producing 1kg of edible meat by industrial methods requires 20kg of feed for beef, 7.3 kg for pigmeat and 4.5 kg for chicken [3]
Growing demand for grain for animal feed leads to competition for land and increases the price of staple foods.  As grain prices continue to rise, people all over the world are struggling to feed themselves. And people in developing countries, particularly subsistence farmers and the rural and urban poor are most affected by growing global demand for meat.[4]
In places like the EU and USA people consume more than their fair share of high input foods including meat.  Meanwhile many people in developing countries – particularly children – could benefit from diets higher in the protein and micronutrients that meat and milk can provide in their diets.[5] 
As the world’s population continues to grow, it’s vital that global consumption, including meat consumption, is re-balanced more equitably. [6]

Better for sustainable livelihoods

Rearing livestock can be an efficient way to use poor quality farmland that could not otherwise grow crops, and to provide livelihoods. Yet many farmers and food producers are struggling to earn a fair living, squeezed by rising feed and production costs and pressures from retailers to keep prices to the consumer as low as possible.

An Eating Better approach can help reconnecting consumers with producers. People can support farmers by choosing ‘better’ meat that is naturally-fed, has a known provenance and is produced to high animal welfare, environmental and quality standards. Eating Better wants to see more farmers able to earn a living from producing meat to such standards.

Moving to livestock farming that’s less intensive and less reliant on imported feed, and which favours home-grown feeds and diverse breeds of animals, could also help make farmers more resilient to price fluctuations in commodity markets.

[1] Compassion in World Farming briefing 

[2] See for example: WHO, 2011. Tackling antibiotic resistance from a food safety perspective in Europe

[3] Smil, V.; 2000. Feeding the world: a challenge for the twenty-first century. MIT Press

[4] Oxfam Novib (2010) People Planet and Proteins 

[5] Oxfam (2012) The Food Transformation

[6] McMichael, A. J., Powles, J. W., Butler, C., Uauy, R., 2007. Food, livestock production, energy, climate change, and health. The Lancet 370: 1253-1263.