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2020-10-14

Commentary: The acceptance of alternative proteins, by Verena Jungbluth Editor-in-Chief | Head of Veganism at the German Animal Welfare Association

For months the corona virus has been keeping the world on tenterhooks. Powerlessness, concern and mourning for the sick and deceased contrast with the will to shape the world and activism. While some are struggling with personal destinies, others want to use the crisis to change the world - and in turn face those who want to get back as quickly as possible, to "before Corona". The fact is, the way we live today, we can't go on doing it. 

Everything we do is having an effect. No action in everyday life, no matter how small, happens unnoticed. Our way of life and nutrition has direct and indirect effects on animals and people worldwide, the environment, the climate, global resources and the entire biological diversity. The biggest animal welfare problems of our time lie in the production of our food today. Especially the intensive agricultural animal husbandry has been taking place for decades under the exclusion of the public and the alienation from our food has never been as serious as today. We eat every day and at least three times a day. This alone gives us the choice over 1,000 times a year to decide for or against a product. In the market economy in which we live, there is nothing stronger than the consumers. If we don't question things, don't develop further and don't actively support change, we stand still - and race towards the abyss with our eyes wide open. Because the Corona pandemic is not the only crisis we are currently facing. At this very moment, millions of animals are suffering in a system that could hardly ignore their needs, countless species are dying out and our planet is groaning under our overexploitation of nature. It is more than obvious that our current lifestyle is based on the immeasurable suffering of other living beings and we are in the midst of the greatest biodiversity crisis in human history. We ourselves are responsible for this - with our blind consumption and our seemingly never saturated striving for material and economic prosperity.

A great source of hope: vegetable alternatives to conventional animal products such as meat, milk, cheese and egg. More and more people are opening up to alternative diets, every day start-ups are shooting up from the ground ready to turn the food industry upside down, and there is hardly a major player in the economy that is not yet investing in new, sustainable models. Is the currently growing sales market and the ever increasing interest also due to the Corona pandemic? Hard to say. Nor do the encouraging figures disguise the fact that Germans still consume an average of almost 60 kilograms of meat a year and that a conversion of agriculture and food production is still a long way off. But: Besides consumers, politics is also on the move. The Federal Government has therefore set up the Future Commission on Agriculture, a body which is to outline by the middle of next year what the future of agriculture in Germany should look like and what steps politics, business and society must take to achieve this future. For the first time, representatives from agriculture, science, animal welfare and environmental associations, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Economics, the Ministry of Finance and the Federal Chancellery are also participating in the Commission. This extraordinarily broad membership offers the chance for a social contract that does not transfer the existing system into the future, but recognizes alternatives and takes all participants along the path to a sustainable, resource-saving and animal welfare-free agriculture. It is about nothing less than the question of the future of all life: that of humans, animals and the entire environment. Only if we succeed in ending and reversing the excesses and misguided developments in agriculture, whose horrific consequences we are currently experiencing, will this planet have a future.

Picture: „Deutscher Tierschutzbund e.V.