What is the greenwashing trick?
Big Livestock companies need us to believe that they supply critical nutrients, including essential proteins, minerals and vitamins, to people all over the globe. They argue that they produce these nutrients very efficiently, and that without industrial animal agriculture many would go hungry.
In reality, the world already produces more than enough food to feed everyone, but there are significant issues regarding food access and distribution around the world. Much of the food we produce is also produced in a way that is bad for the planet, and relies on using fertilizers, spraying pesticides, clearing forests and other practices that are environmentally harmful.
How is this greenwashing trick being used?
Many large meat companies, including Vion, Danish Crown and the world’s biggest meat producer JBS, claim to be contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of achieving Zero Hunger by 2030.
Meat companies provide us with a false dichotomy: business as usual or going hungry. But business as usual sets us on a sure path for climate catastrophe; within 10 years, the livestock sector will account for almost half (49%) of the world’s emissions budget to limit the planet to 1.5°C of warming, and agriculture the world over will be impacted by our changing climate.
Why is this bad for the the climate crisis?
Enough food is already produced to feed all 7 billion people in the world. Instead of being the solution, industrial meat and dairy production is actually part of the hunger problem: the majority of maize, wheat and soya is fed to animals, instead of being fed to humans. That land could also be used to grow other crops that humans might eat.
Research shows that 400 million hectares of cropland produces feed for livestock in a way that competes with human food crop production – and area bigger than the landmass of the United States and India combined. Furthermore, there is an unfair distribution of food, with an overconsumption of meat and dairy in developed countries.
The choice the world faces is not between industrial animal agriculture or going hungry; the choice is between industrial animal agriculture’s business as usual, or transforming our food system to prioritise the health of people, animals and the planet.