'I Eat Meat' Campaign

"I'm a carnivore and I'm not ashamed of it!" is the main slogan of the new campaign of the Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic (the „Agri-Chamber“) to promote meat consumption and a return to a primarily meat-based diet in society. The campaign is called 'I Eat Meat' and its stated aim is to "debunk myths about meat and put into context the trends that are being promoted in contemporary nutrition", by which is meant alternative eating and the replacement of animal products with plant-based alternatives, which is practiced mainly by vegetarians and vegans.

The campaign takes a swipe at plant-based imitations of common meat products, pointing out the contents of such plant-based alternatives and, in parts, misleadingly highlighting the benefits of meat products while completely ignoring their adverse impact on the human body and even the environment. The campaign criticizes plant-based alternatives in particular for the high processing of the ingredients needed to produce imitation meat - highly processed food is therefore, according to the campaign, unhealthy food. It then literally links highly processed foods to a number of wide-spread diseases, such as obesity, type II diabetes, heart and blood vessel disease and increased carcinogenicity.

"Limiting animal products in the human diet is a trend that many are pursuing in the name of humanity, ethics, environmentalism, but also health. Why not, but if we are talking about health, we need to choose a different way of eating that is actually good for the body. This is not automatically true for imitation-animal products. There is a big difference between a meat alternative and meat imitation, and even the manufacturers are often unclear about the meaning of these words.“ The Chamber of Agriculture states on its website, set up to promote the campaign. However, if one evaluates the campaign objectively, the reality is somewhat different.

Campaign criticism

One of the main facts for which the campaign has faced widespread criticism is the Ministry of Agriculture's share of the campaign's funding through a CZK 3.7 million grant. While it is true that livestock production represents a substantial part of the domestic agricultural industry, in terms of sustainability this Czech practice must undergo a revolution, whether wanted or not.

In addition to public funding, the content of the infographics and the campaign as a whole is problematic. This is because it is misleading both in terms of health and environmental impact - especially in terms of what the campaign is silent about. The infographics completely downplay animal production and then disproportionately detail every step of the production of plant-based alternatives – specifically dragging the production of soya, tempeh and seitan.

Simultaneously, meat production is depicted in just three simple steps:

  • Cows, happily grazing in the grassland
  • Slaughterhouse
  • Finished burger with description of its Ingredients: meat from grazing cattle and then a definition of the meat: wholesome animal protein, natural source of minerals and vitamins.

It then shows the production of soya protein isolate, the main ingredient of the veggie burger, in 20+ steps, including a few added intermediate steps. In addition to the disproportionate complexity of plant-based production, the Agri-Chamber project completely avoids livestock farming and the impacts of meat consumption on human health and the environment. In the process of criticizing the complex process of producing soya protein isolate, the first adverse effect mentioned is the need to import soya for over 10 000 km, while completely ignoring the equally difficult import of soya from the other side of the world, but used for feeding livestock.

So does the campaign debunk myths about meat consumption, or does it manipulate information about the health and environmental impacts of vegetarian alternatives? Although the campaign's website says that it only brings many new facts about plant-based alternatives to animal products, it completely ignores all the negatives associated with the production and consumption of meat.

It could therefore be argued that the official but unstated purpose of the money spent was not to debunk the myths about the harmfulness of the meat diet, as the explicit aim of the contract with the Ministry is to maintain livestock numbers. However, there is no doubt that the State should act neutrally and certainly not against its obligations to the European Union.

We can only speculate whether the creative intent was to come up with a campaign so silly that it would generate a wave of reactions and media interest just by its title and manipulative treatment. However, it is sad to see public money being wasted on bizarre projects which, moreover, benefit only a small group of private companies. And which is in direct contradiction to national environmental commitments.

European perspective on the issue

This year, a major study was published in the peer-reviewed journal of the US National Academy of Sciences, examining the environmental impacts of 57,000 food types. The results clearly showed that animal-based products are the most environmentally damaging of all.

  • The first place is held by the Chamber of Agriculture's much-praised beef. In contrast, plant-based alternatives had five to ten times less impact.

The European Union has long called for a switch to a diet containing more plants and less red and processed meat. It is already quite common to limit the consumption of red meat in our daily lives if the household budget allows it. We are quite successfully moving away from the idea of the need for a daily intake of meat for both lunch and dinner to the mere occasional consumption of meat and a much more varied diet, even if that means through a greater frequency of fish dishes. Civilized and modern society is simply no longer in need of daily meat consumption, considering it unnecessary, too heavy and, above all, unsustainable.

So, if we need publicly funded campaigns, it is campaigns educating the public on how to eat healthily - in exactly the opposite spirit to the state-sponsored campaign of the Agri-Chamber.

The 'I Eat Meat' campaign reminded me vividly of the 3-year-old European project 'Proud of EU beef', which also highlighted livestock production, specifically beef, over all alternatives, even over other types of meat. The aim of the project was "to incite the consumers not to have a stereotyped idea about red meat and to enable them to be again confident about their consumption decision." At the time, despite its own commitments and declarations, the European Union allocated EUR 54 million to promote meat consumption. The 'Become a Beefatarian' campaign, arising in support of the project in France, Belgium, Germany and other countries, for example, caused a wave of discontent from environmental organizations. The Czech Republic is thus not alone in the issue of absurd and anti-public interest campaigns on the subject of unsustainable diet.


At a time when society is increasingly concerned about global warming and the potentially negative impact of the livestock (meat) industry on the environment, I find the Agri-Chamber’s campaign completely out of place. I am used to a lot of strange things in the Czech Republic, but I was still quite taken aback by the campaign and the infographics.

I understand the desire and need to support the agricultural industry at this time of crisis, and I also understand the great importance of the meat industry in our country, which is indeed the basis for a large part of agriculture. However, it is not possible to completely ignore the negative impact of such promotion of meat farming, because it is completely deliberate mystification and the infographics border on spreading misinformation. The meat industry certainly does not work in such a way that a happy cow that has grazed in a meadow all her life visits a house and suddenly turns into a burger.

It is therefore important to find a balance between supporting local farmers and sustainable farming. As with everything else, even here 'too much of anything is bad' can be applied to the regular, more frequent consumption of red meat.

(Article prepared by my dear colleague Daniel Aleš Weiss)