Current EU food policies encourage intensive animal production. Instead of being respected as sentient beings, farmed animals are often treated simply as tools to maximise production and profit.
A trend towards industrialised farming methods that prioritise quantity has led to the use of increasingly productive breeds in systems where animals are confined for their entire lives or prolonged periods of time. Animals are selected for traits that are desirable for meat, egg or milk production, to the detriment of their health and welfare. This negative impact goes beyond farmed animals, also impacting the environment, public health and is a main contributor to climate change.
There is an urgent need to change the food system to more plant-based production and consumption, and 'less and better' animal products. A shift from intensive animal farming to extensive farming based on agroecology with high animal welfare standards is therefore needed. A reduction in meat, dairy, fish and egg consumption, combined with the development and introduction of alternatives and the uptake of higher welfare animal products, can contribute greatly to this.
Innovations in food technology, plant-based substitutes and cellular agriculture, or cultivated meat, provide viable alternatives to the consumption of animal-based food from intensive animal production. Cellular agriculture creates meat from cells rather than from slaughtered animals.Because cultivated meat is grown outside the body of an animal, fewer animals are needed compared to the tens of billions of animals currently used in conventional animal agriculture. Moreover, the few animals used in cellular agriculture are less likely to undergo transportation. Healthier and more robust traditional breeds can be raised and they can fulfil an ecological role by grazing without the need for slaughter.