Saturday, 15 January, 2022

Faced with “green Monday”, the meat sector sees red

There is something to see in all colors. For several days, a call signed by 500 personalities not to eat meat or fish on Monday – advocating a “green Monday” – has been broadcast on the walls of the Paris metro via a poster campaign. The response was not long in coming. A #SamediRouge “circulated on social networks to defend the consumption of meat. The president of the FNSEA Christiane Lambert even relayed a tweet in this direction! It must be said that the call for a” green Monday “is annoying the meat sector.

At the origin of this campaign for a “Green Monday” are two men: Nicolas Treich, economist, researcher at the Toulouse School of Economics and director of research at INRA, and Laurent Bègue, psychologist, professor at the University Grenoble Alpes and director of the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Alpes. The objective is clear – to reduce the consumption of animal flesh in France – and the arguments put forward are multiple: “saving the planet, human health, respect for animal life”, lists this appeal.

“It is about highlighting the environmental impacts, both globally and locally with air and soil pollution,” underlines Nicolas Treich in particular. “The production of meat is one of the human activities having the most harmful consequences for the environment”, advances the text of the appeal. Another argument is mentioned: the impact on health: “eating less meat would even be beneficial to health by helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity”. “Our objective is to insist on the scientific side” of the arguments, also supports Nicolas Treich. Finally, animal welfare complements the arguments deployed.

“I am tired of this kind of initiative”

Signed by 500 people including a few personalities such as actress Isabelle Adjani, Yann Arthus-Bertrand from the Good Planet foundation or Stéphane Bern, this appeal has made the meat sector jump. “I am not surprised but I am tired by this kind of initiative”, explains Marc Pagès, general manager of Interbev, the national interprofessional association of cattle and meat. He regrets the “great shortcuts” between issues that arise at the global level and the French situation. “The French consume only 320 grams of cooked red meat per week, which is less than the recommended threshold of 500 grams,” he recalls.

And France is still far from the XXL format farms that can be found in other countries, also points out Marc Pagès. Conversely, the director of Interbev emphasizes the commitment of the sector in a collective approach of social responsibility and the European program Life Beef Carbon to reduce the carbon footprint of meat by 15% of here at 10 years old joined by French breeders. “What we advocate is a balanced diet and what we say is that the consumer must choose the meat he consumes: 70% of beef in out-of-home catering is imported, ”summarizes Marc Pagès.

“Extremely stigmatizing” for breeders

On the side of the Confédération paysanne, the exasperation is also felt. Laurent Pinatel, spokesperson for the union which advocates peasant agriculture and himself a breeder, does not hide his “fed up”. “This speech which says that breeding is responsible for all ills is in the air but it is extremely violent and stigmatizing for breeders.” “This appeal never mentions that many agricultural lands (summer pastures, mountain pastures, permanent meadows) can only be developed by extensive livestock farming”, notes for example the Confédération paysanne. Both consumers and politicians have a role to play in promoting the most virtuous modes of production, adds Laurent Pinatel.

Gloomy background

If the response of players in the meat sector was not long in coming, it is because this call comes in addition to an already very gloomy context with a 12% decline in meat consumption in France in ten years. , according to figures from Crédoc. Above all, consumption habits are changing: on the one hand, meat is consumed more and more in processed products such as burgers and on the other hand there is a strong tendency to favor quality over quantity. Changes that breeders and manufacturers must take into account. Without forgetting the many actions of anti-species activists against butcher shops or the videos of the L214 association on the conditions of animals which weigh on the sector.

>> To read: Tax, antispeciesists, consumption … meat facing its challenges

“Our approach is rather a gentle method”, specifies Nicolas Treich for his part. If he was expecting the reactions from the meat sector, especially from breeders, he believes that “it is a fact: we must reduce meat consumption and therefore a change in production systems but we must see it as an economic transition “. With the explosion of products based on vegetable proteins, Nicolas Treich also judges that “the planets are aligned” for this call for a “green Monday”. The latter will in any case not be followed by the LR deputy of Jura Jean-Marie Sermier. And he did not fail to let it be known on Twitter, with a photo of a piece of meat in support.

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