A giant pig and a little sheep?

Next to this sign you will find different sized figures of a pig, a cow, a chicken and a sheep. The size of the animals does not refer to their life size. They depict the average amount of meat that we eat from these animals in Austria per year and person.

Land of the Schnitzel: meat consumption in Austria
According to Statistik Austria, we eat an average of 61 kg of meat per person per year. We eat pork the most frequently at 35.2 kg, followed by poultry (12.5 kg), beef (10.9 kg) and mutton and goat meat (0.7 kg). According to experts, this amount of meat is too much. Because high meat consumption not only harms our health, but also the climate and the environment.

Climate factor meat
Why is the consumption of animal products a challenge for our planet? The production of meat and dairy products requires a lot of space and energy. In addition to animal husbandry, feed production, slaughter, meat and dairy processing, transport and manure fertilization on fields also contribute to climate change. Compared to the production of plant-based foods, significantly more climate-damaging gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane are produced along these processes.

Environmental impact of animal-based food
Animal husbandry and animal feed production take up 67% of the agricultural area in Austria and abroad. In order to gain more agricultural land for pasture and fodder plants, land is being repurposed and cleared. A fifth of the tropical rainforest has already been cut down for animal feed production. As a result of land clearing, carbon bound in the soil and in plants is released into the atmosphere as climate-damaging carbon dioxide (CO₂).

Social impact of animal-based foods
The areas for animal feed production are unevenly distributed around the world. The consumption of animal-based foods in countries in the Global North is particularly high. However, most of the areas for animal feed production are in countries of the Global South. There, farmers are losing land that they previously farmed for self-sufficiency or to provide for the local population.

Less meat for better health
Experts recommend reducing meat consumption to a maximum of 15-22 kg per person per year. Eating less or no meat is also possible with an otherwise balanced diet without any problems. The protein contained in meat is also provided by plant foods such as legumes, whole grain products, mushrooms or nuts. If you eat more plant-based foods, you can not only help protect the climate and the environment, but also do something good for your health.

Time for utopias
Many people dream of a just world and a healthy and green planet. Along the climate path, we would like to invite you to think about what a climate just world could look like. If we humans reduced our meat consumption, as recommended by experts, it would mean that there would be a lot more free space on our planet. What do you think should happen with this free space? Let us know about your ideas and see what others think. Share your ideas and visions on the time for utopias board next to the Climate Justice Scale or online via this QR code.