The Meat Guide

October 21st 2013

It is becoming clearer and clearer that we need to eat less meat. But it’s less clear what kind of meat should we eat. The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has attempted to address this issue through its Meat Guide. This compares different types of meat and other protein sources – except fish – and classifies them according to a traffic-light system in four impact categories: climate, biodiversity, pesticides, and animal welfare. The guide also contains an extensive background report, explaining the impact categories, the importance of certification for credibility towards consumers, and how the guide can be used.

The Meat Guide aims to illustrate trade-offs and to facilitate consumer to make informed choice about meat and meat substitutes. The target audience is ‘interested consumer ‘, as well as employees in the retail sector, the food industry and the public sector – i.e. people with either an interest in or a duty to understand the complexity of the meat issue. These people may in turn facilitate consumer choices.

Another important purpose of the Meat Guide is to encourage greater discussion and awareness about the environmental impact of meat. By presenting a design that is appealing and accessible to a wide audience, the researchers are hoping that the Meat Guide will increase the interest in sustainability issues related to the food we eat, especially meat.

The guide will be tested in stores during 2013-14, and the impact categories will be further developed – for example use of antibiotics. The continued management and update of the guide will then be presented.

For more information, read Elin Röös doctoral thesis, or visit The Meat Guide (in Swedish only).

Anna Richert

Richert Miljökompetens/WWF Sweden

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