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Sonia Phalnikar | Ideas

‘Hands off my sausage,’ say Germans to meat-free proposal

Photo credit: CC BY 2.0: Bernt Rostad/flickr: bit.ly/14sLZhg

Germans take very seriously their cherished right of eating sausage whenever they want

Rice and beans instead of sausages and meat? The very idea of eathing just vegetarian fare – even if it’s just once a week – has many meat-loving Germans up in arms. Find out why.

The whole kerfuffle began earlier this week with Germany’s opposition Green Party saying they planned to roll out a weekly vegetarian day if elected. Yes, Germany is in full campaign mode with six campaign weeks left until national elections.

So, what’s the fuss about? The Greens say one day each week, workplace cafeterias at federal government institutions would be banned from serving any meat dishes or products. The environmentally-friendly party hopes that would become a model for corporate and school canteens.The party says lower meat consumption would reduce the impact of farming on the environment, lead to an increase in quality and better conditions for animals.

“A veggie day is a wonderful day to try out how to nourish oneself without meat and sausage for once,” Green Party leader Renate Künast told mass-market daily Bild this week.

But, many think otherwise. Though environmental groups have welcomed the proposal, it’s sparked uproar in the country. Some lawmakers have said it smacks of a lecturing attitude. German Agricultural Minister Ilse Aigner was quoted through a spokesman that “we don’t place much stock in paternalism. At the end of the day, we need a balanced diet and meat is part of that.”

Meat certainly is a big part of German‘s lives. Estimates suggest that per capita meat consumption in the country per year is 60 kilograms (against a global average of 42 kg per-capita annually).

A recent United Nations study suggested people in the industrialized world should halve their meat consumption, saying the demand for ever cheaper meat is ruining the planet by leading to a massive expansion of intensively farmed livestock, diverting vast quantities of grain from human to animal consumption and requiring intensive use of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides.

But many meat-loving Germans remain unconvinced. Members of the youth wing of the Free Democrats (FDP) even organized a spontaneous street barbeque this week in front of Green Party headquarters in Berlin. Some members held up slogans saying “Hands off my sausage.”

Date

August 9, 2013

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