Wishful Headlines

Wishful Headlines

In our last post we discussed how the new China-US trade agreement is expected to further increase China’s already enormous flesh consumption, as well as strengthening the already enormous US flesh industry. One of the readers commented that if China’s plans to reduce its flesh consumption by half in the following years would succeed, the trade agreement is not expected to have such a terrible effect.

But China doesn’t have plans to cut flesh consumption by half, it merely recommends its citizens to do so, and mainly for healthful reasons. The deceiving headlines referred to the publication of dietary guidelines, which didn’t even add new significant information. China’s health ministry has already recommended reducing flesh consumption to between 40g to 75g of flesh per person per day, a decade ago. But the Chinese have responded with a massive increase in their flesh consumption per capita which right now stands at about 170 grams a day. Almost 3 times more than the decade old recommendation.

China's per capita meat consumption

In fact, recommendations for reduced flesh consumption go back even 20 years, as the 1997 dietary guidelines recommended between 50 and 100 grams of flesh. The new guidelines recommend consuming only slightly less flesh than the ones of 1997, but 3 times more milk and dairy products (from 100 to 300 grams), almost twice as much for a minimum eggs recommendation and more fishes (which as usual are not even considered as flesh).

Since currently the per person consumption of the average Chinese is more than twice the current recommended maximum amount, it practically means that it is recommended for the Chinese to reduce their consumption by half, but not as a plan, not by the government, and not for the planet, but for their own health.


Last year The Chinese Nutrition Society (CNS) partnered with an international environmental group (WildAid) to initiate a public campaign, called “Less Meat, Less Heat, More Life,” in which celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron recommend the Chinese to reduce their flesh consumption to decrease carbon emissions as well as their health risks.
But old dietary guidelines and a public campaign featuring an old Hollywood star are not a plan. There is no real policy aimed to change the Chinese citizen’s consumption patterns, for example by excluding flesh from school meals, by placing higher taxes on flesh, or by not importing mass amounts of cheap flesh from around the world.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

The enthusiastic sharing of these headlines among AR activists is another example of the ‘we are winning’ rhetoric. The huge gap between the headlines and the actual eventuation indicates how despairing AR activists are. They are so desperate for positive news that they have turned conventional and conservative dietary guidelines into dramatic governmental plan.

After flesh consumption reduction recommendations for healthful reasons have failed in the last couple of decades, it is very unlikely that environmental reasons would succeed in reducing flesh consumption by half.
So far, the exact opposite has happened. People want to eat flesh much more than they care about their own health or others’ environment. When it comes to the choice between immediate pleasure now or better health in the future, the present usually defeats the future. And when it comes to: Me, Now, Big Joy vs. Others, Later, Small Harms, it is not even a match.
That is the conclusion we must infer from this story. This is the human race and that is our world. If you don’t like it you should join us.

Leave a Reply