Over the past twenty years, the Swiss per capita consumption of animal products has reduced only marginally. Around 50 kg meat, 240 kg milk products, 12 kg eggs and 7 kg fish per person are still consumed annually in Switzerland. Moreover, the consumption of chicken is steadily increasing. This is particularly problematic because, per kilogram of chicken, many more individuals are killed than per kilogram of beef. In a global comparison, Switzerland stands far above the average in terms of its consumption of animal products. Due to higher incomes and population growth, demand is also growing in poorer countries, and it is anticipated that we will see a 70-percent increase worldwide by 2030.
The excessive demand for animal products is also reflected in the husbandry conditions for non-human animals in Switzerland. Considerably more animals are housed per agricultural operation than previously – up to 300 calves, 1,500 pigs and 27,000 chickens. The consequences for animal welfare are fatal and, in the view of Sentience, unacceptable. So-called “livestock” are degraded by our treatment of them to the level of mere commodities and are subjected to huge suffering as a result of the way they are kept, transported and slaughtered. The rational solution is therefore to encourage plant-based nutrition. In order to achieve this trend reversal there needs to be increased per capita consumption of plant-based foods together with a reduced consumption of animal-based foodstuffs.
The value of plant-based cuisine must be promoted both in institutions and within society as a whole. Through the greater availability of plant-based foodstuffs we can feed ourselves more sustainably and in a more animal-friendly manner, without having to compromise on taste, convenience and essential nutrients. Vegan cookery must be an official component of education both at professional and school level. Restaurants must be requested to offer more plant-based options. We expect politicians and administrative bodies to promote alternative protein sources instead of continuing to invest in the past and propping up industrial animal production with billions of francs in subsidies.
Plant-based meat alternatives as well as cultivated meat are highly promising alternatives to the status quo when it comes to protein production. Neither is dependent on the slaughter of animals for production and both are clearly superior to conventional meat sources when it comes to the question of sustainability. The approach of using alternative sources of protein is gaining ground, yet a study published in 2021 predicts that this will only represent 11 percent of the total protein consumed worldwide by 2035. As a world leader in research, Switzerland has outstanding conditions for driving forward the development of meat and milk alternatives. For Sentience it is therefore clear that we must adopt a pioneering role in this regard.