News - September 29, 2011

Proposition: Eating less meat is essential for a sustainable society


Marlies and Jillis discuss about meat.

Marlies: Meat is tasty and to some extent healthy. But the amount of meat some people eat, having some every day, is bad for both the environment and their health. Compared with plant-based food, it costs a lot of energy and land to produce, causes a manure surplus, contributes to the depletion of natural resources such as fossil fuels and phosphates, and so on.
Most people know this by now, but many just carry on happily eating meat, saying ‘yes, but it's so nice'- and that is the main argument I hear in these discussions. Pretty sad that that is more important to many people that the environment or animal welfare. I am not against meat-eating, but a slight reduction shouldn't be so difficult. It's a question of getting used to it and finding some tasty veggie recipes.
Jillis responds: Please just let everyone decide for themselves. If you don't want to eat meat, fine. But if I eat it every day, that's my business. I don't have to justify that to you. Some people have to learn to respect the choices made by others. If everyone did that, life here in the Netherlands would be a lot more pleasant.
Jillis: A sustainable society is absolutely essential. If the ever-increasing world population carries on consuming at the same levels, our natural resources will soon be exhausted. However, as a liberal, I do not believe in finger-wagging, and certainly not in the kind of prohibition culture typical of the CDA, for example. Everyone should be free to decide for themselves how much meat they eat. I can imagine that meat will get more expensive as the price of inputs rises, but if someone chooses to go without a new jacket or a holiday in order to treat themselves to a beef steak, that's up to them. So I just ignore moralizing left-wing groups such as the Green Left or animal rights organization Wakker Dier, and personally I find the witch-hunts against meat-eaters that they try to stir up quite scary.
Marlies responds: You call it moralizing, I call it appealing to people's sense of the responsibility we all share for this earth. You say that we need to change our patterns of consumption, but I wonder how you want to achieve that if you are not allowed to point out to people what the consequences of their choices are.