Sustainable Food Consumption: A Mission Almost Impossible Because of the West

Sustainable Food Consumption: A Mission Almost Impossible Because of the West

Amzad Hossain (Curtin University, Australia & Rajshahi University, Bangladesh)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9553-5.ch014
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Abstract

It is difficult to separate western consumerism from excessive meat consumption and through globalization this culture is spreading through the planet to traditional places, such as Bangladesh and the Indian subcontinent. The chapter argues that the socio-economic and planetary cost of increasing meat consumption is clearly untenable and initiating a process that restores natural resources is imperative. A major objective of this chapter is to raise awareness about the consequences from unsustainable meat production and consumption and the negative implication from a Western type of diet. Drawing on the spiritual messages from the Baul philosophers, it makes the case that preserving traditional flexitarianism, defined here as meat in the absence of any other food options or rare ceremonial meat consumption, is essential for the health of the planet and its inhabitants.
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Introduction

The meaning of sustainable food consumption should derive from the most commonly used Brundtland 1987 definition of sustainable development: “the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED, 1987, p. 16). Hence the meat we consume today should not compromise food for present and future people. There are however vast differences in the food we eat depending on culture and place and nowhere are these as evident as in relation to meat consumption.

Table 1 shows a comparison between countries based on FAO data. Bangladesh is the nation with the lowest meat consumption of 4.1 kg per person per year. The people of this country maintain a very low individual meat intake because of the prevalence of traditional culture which encourages plant-based meals. Influential spiritual leaders, such as the mystic Baul philosophers recognized by UNESCO (2008) as part of the intangible heritage of humanity, consume zero meat. This traditional culture however is being eroded with the processes of globalization and the increasing influence of the West, including western style meat-rich diets.

Table 1.
Per capita meat supply, 2011 [kg] (FAOSTAT, 2015)
CountryKg/CapitaCountryKg/CapitaCountryKg/Capita
New Zealand126.9Norway65.9Botswana29.7
Australia121.2Panama64.4El Salvador28.1
USA117.6Korea62.2Egypt28
Oceania116.2Saudi Arabia62Thailand27.8
Austria106.4Mexico61Nicaragua27.4
Israel102South Africa59.3Lesotho22.7
Spain93.1Turkmenistan57.8Peru21.2
Brazil93Viet Nam57.6Zimbabwe20.7
Canada92.2China57.5Syria20.6
Portugal90.3Bulgaria57.1Lao19.9
France88.7UAE55.6Iraq18.9
Germany87.9Ecuador54.4Yemen18.6
Iceland87Romania53.4Africa18.6
Kuwait87Malaysia53.3Haiti18.2
Italy86.7Paraguay51.4Niger17.9
Americas86.5Cuba49.7Ghana16.9
EU82.6Costa Rica49Kenya16
UK82.5Ukraine49Pakistan15.5
Sweden81.9Japan48.8Liberia15
Greece80.6Colombia47.6Cambodia14.9
Ireland80.5Lebanon43.8Senegal14.5
Chile80.1Albania43.4Least Developed Countries14.1
Montenegro77.3World42.2Tajikistan14
Belgium76.8Myanmar39.3Afghanistan13.4
Europe76Congo37.6Zambia13.4
Poland75.6Moldova37.5Indonesia12.9
Switzerland74.7Kyrgyzstan36.8Uganda12.6
Finland74.4FYR Macedonia35.7Nepal12.2
Hungary73.7Timor-Leste35.6Togo12.2
Mongolia73.4Honduras35.5Nigeria9.5
Lithuania72.9Iran35.4Tanzania8.9
Netherlands72.7Philippines34.4Mozambique7.9
Kazakhstan69.7Morocco33.7Sri Lanka6.3
Uruguay69.5Turkey33.4Rwanda6.2
Latvia68.5Libya31.3India4.2
Russia66.9Asia31.2Bangladesh4.1

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