In the country of ham, the issue was not going to go unnoticed and the campaign of the Minister of Consumption of Spain against high meat intake he received the quick reply from the president of the government himself, who confessed that he could not resist a “steak”.
“Wherever they put a steak on the spot, that is unbeatable,” replied the Socialist Pedro Sánchez to his Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón.
From Lithuania, where he was on an official visit, the president thus tried avoid a conflict with the livestock sector.
Garzón, from the Izquierda Unida party, associated with Podemos and the PSOE in the government of Spain, had published a series of tweets hours earlier calling attention to the excessive consumption of meat in the country, accompanied by the label “#MenosCarneMasVida”.
In a six-minute video, the minister detailed -with the support of infographics and numerous figures- the effects of meat consumption on health and the environment.
“The consumption of water necessary for a piece of meat to reach a plate is worrying. The water that animals drink, the necessary to produce feed, to transport meat or to package it, contributes to ending the reserves of our planet” warns one of the tweets.
“1kg of meat -> 15,000 liters of water”, he adds.
Rejection of the opposition and within the government
His tweets immediately provoked a wave of protests both among the right-wing opposition and within the government itself, where several ministers disagreed, led by the head of Agriculture, Luis Planas.
The minister accused his colleague of creating “a false problem”, and described in an interview on Cadena Ser radio as “deeply unfair” these criticisms of livestock producers, underlining that this sector only generates “8%” of emissions greenhouse gas of the country.
A “support” that was also reiterated this Friday by the government spokeswoman, María Jesús Montero, who expressed the “recognition of the meat sector” by the Executive, during a press appearance.
Shortly before, the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, had taken a sense similar to that of Sánchez when advocating “a diet that allows us to alternate an important intake of protein, well of vitamins, a balanced and complete diet, all in its proper measure”.
Rejection of livestock producers
The statements of the head of Consumption are “irresponsible and inappropriate for a minister of Spain, since it not only tries to stigmatize a product but an entire sector of activity”, criticized, in turn, a group of six associations of the meat sector in a Open letter published Thursday night.
Alberto Garzón defended himself arguing that this objective of reducing meat consumption is included within the government’s strategic plan “Spain 2050”.
The 700-page document that explains this program indicates that “numerous studies show that the consumption of meat in the Spanish population is between two to five times higher than the recommended dose“.
The environmental organization Greenpeace also intervened in the controversy and in a statement criticized the “totally irresponsible” attitude of President Pedro Sánchez, “who boasts of combating the climate emergency and when faced with a question about the need to reduce meat consumption, as endorsed science, answers that a steak to the point is unbeatable “.
In 2020, Spaniards consumed an average of 49.86 kilos of meat per person, a figure 10.2% higher than the previous year, according to the latest annual report on Food Consumption published on June 3 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Food.
Meat is the fourth sector of the Spanish industry, with a turnover of almost 28,000 million euros that represents 2.32% of the country’s GDP, according to the National Association of the Meat Industry in Spain.