Slovenia snubs vegetarians - opts for a meaty EU Presidency

Slovenia - the current holder of the European Union Presidency - has been asked to make its time at the top - well - meatless. The country's Society for the Rights and Liberation of Animals is proposing all official dinners and functions should be vegetarian. They point to the impact of meat production on greenhouse gas emissions and suggest this would set a fine example for the rest of Europe.

More and more meat is being consumed every year, and global meat production is expected to reach about 465 million tonnes by 2050. That will feed a lot of people with tasty steaks, hamburgers, pork chops and roast chickens! Today about 1.3 billion people earn their livings in the livestock sector – but modern mass meat production requires staggering amounts of land, breath-taking amounts of water and large amounts of energy. On top of that the UN estimates livestock account for almost 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Peter Main is the Director of Education and Physics at the Institute of Physics in London and has some opinions on what would happen if we all stopped eating meat.

“Well, two things really. One is that most people would become much healthier because obviously eating meat tends to be the sort of thing that makes you put on weight or have a problem with heart disease. But as far as the human society is concerned the planet as it were would be a massive reduction in our carbon emissions. In fact the largest single contribution that an individual can make to reducing carbon emissions is to stop eating meat – but not only meat but also not eating dairy products.”

But can tiny Slovenia make a difference and what’s more, can a local group lobbying against meat production convince the European Union Presidency to turn all of those official banquets into vegetarian feasts? The President of the Slovene Society for Rights and Liberation of Animals Stanko Valpatič – admits he hasn’t made much of an impact..

“As far as we know our proposal was not adopted, so they are still turning a blind eye to a very important viewpoint about which many famous people have spoken – for instance Leonardo de Vinci, Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Tolstoy and even Jesus of Nazareth – all of them were of the opinion that the human race will survive only if they turn to vegetarian food”.

The Protocol office of the Republic of Slovenia has politely declined the proposal saying what an individual eats is a personal decision. And Slovenia is hardly a shining example of how to avoid too much meat in a diet. Its cuisine combines the influences of the rural population, medieval lords, the bourgeoisie and monastic orders. National dishes include the famous Kranjska klobasa – Carnolian sausage and the more vegetarian dish Bujta Repa (Buita) –Prekmurje style sour turnips – which is usually served with a big portion of pork! Maybe it's a reaction to the meat laden Slovene diet that's pushing Stanko Valpatič and others to get the country's leaders to set an example..

“In recent times a great deal has been spoken about the frightening consequences of meat on humans and livestock production on climate changes, so we are thinking a lot about how and what could be done to encourage people to think differently about meat”.