We at Renjer have often talked about the advantages of game meat compared to mass-farmed meat
Now the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has released a so called "meat guide" on their website, showing implications in regard to climate, biodiversity, chemical pesticides, animal welfare and antibiotics for the various sources of meat.
The results for mass-farmed red meat are shocking, while organically farmed meat and game meat are the only kinds of meat that they recommend for consumption without any drawbacks. It is of utmost importance to us at Renjer - but hopefully to everyone living on this planet - that people understand the environmental effects of their eating habits and the subsequent long-term consequences. As always in life: only by having all the necessary information it is possible to make wise decisions.
We want to summarise some facts for you, derived from the WWF guide
Let's have a look at the details, including some astonishing, yet daunting implications. The first point to look at is animal welfare. Mass-farmed pigs for the European market are mainly bred in Germany and Denmark, often in cages so small they can just rise and fold. Furthermore, the pigs tails are usually cut off, as the animals become aggressive in captivity and bite each others tails off. Mass-farmed chicken don't usually have a much better life.
Forbidden in Sweden, but in many other countries around the world the farmers cut of the beaks of the chicken, so they cannot harm each other. Anything from 15 to 19 chickens are allowed per 1m2 during breeding season, leading to simply unbearable conditions. They are often fed so excessively that their muscles grow much faster than their internal organs and skeletons, causing severe health problems. So next time when you purchase beef or chicken you might want to check the organic options, in organic farming the animals have a lot more space to live and breath.
It's not only the logistics that pollutes and causes strain for the environment
The probably largest differences between mass-farmed meat and wild game are related to climate effects of soy, but wait what? Shouldn't farming soy be good for the environment? Let's take a look how lamb are farmed. These animals are mainly imported from New Zealand and Ireland to Europe, but the factor of transportation is not the main cause of CO2 emissions, but the way they are fed. Their main source of feed is soy (same for chicken and cows), which is farmed in South America. As we need more and more soy to feed the animals, more and more land is needed to grow the crops, leading to a severe deforestation of the rain forests. Luckily Sweden has banned the use of unsustainable soy for chicken feed. However, a kilogram of boneless sheep meat causes CO2 emissions of 21g, while the emissions from game meat are absolutely neglectable, as they only consist of the natural methane that the animals produce.
In addition to game meat, organically farmed meats support to sustaining the local ecosystems
Looking at sustainability of game hunting throughout Europe, it can be said that strict quotas exist and that hunters adhere to these rules. Thus, it can be guaranteed that that the population of animals (e.g. deer, elk and wild boar) is kept stable. The same is true for organically farmed animals and free range animals. These types of farming actually support the local ecosystem. This in turn means that the supply is much more limited compared to mass-farmed meat, leading to somewhat higher prices for us consumers. However, knowing the implications for the animals, the environment and ultimately our planet and future, that should be a price we are willing to pay so future generations will be able to enjoy life on earth as much as we do today. Therefore, why not focus on the quality instead of quantity?
Read the Meat Guides here:
https://www.wwf.de/aktiv-werden/tipps-fuer-den-alltag/vernuenftig-einkaufen/einkaufsratgeber-fleisch/ (in German)
https://www.wwf.se/mat-och-jordbruk/kottguiden/ (in Swedish)
https://wwf.fi/lihaopas/ (in Finnish)
As the sources for this post we used the Köttguiden by WWF Sweden and the Lihaopas by WWF Finland.