The Cost of Meat
The food culture in France has always been one of extremes. From having their food recognized by the international community to fighting outside influence, the French are very proud of what they have to bring to the world of gastronomy. However, vegan activists in France are going for blood, literally, by splashing themselves with fake blood and stoning butchers shops to the point where the French butchers' lobby has sought police protection.
"French consumers are finally waking up, decades after everybody else," Geoffroy Le Guilcher, author of a book on abattoirs and publisher of another on animal rights activism, said. "A new generation of activists is making people realise that even in the land of meat, there is very little that makes the case for having it."
Animal welfare, promoted by prominent figures such as Brigitte Bardot and the magazine 60 Millions d'Amis (60 Million Friends) have lacked broad support in France as animal cruelty is still presented as an unavoidable path to fine gastronomy.
Also, it must be noted that the animal-products industry generates nearly $41.5 billion in revenue annually and has created thousands of jobs. Organisations such as L214 seek to change that, including video-taping and releasing evidence of animal mistreatment.
Greenpeace, which pushes for vegetarian meals in school cafeterias, reported that most of them in France offer meat at each and every meal. France's CFBCT penned a letter to the interior ministry, which represents butchers, said it was worried about media attention to vegan habits and about increasing violent acts against meat vendors. While the French remain among the world's largest consumers of meat, demand has declined gradually for the last 2 decades due to rising health concerns about cancer, cholesterol, and diabetes. Vegetable protein is becoming a substitute, with supermarket sales surging by 80% in 2016. This is all taking place while the government is putting continued restrictions on how “fake” meat can be labeled, however it hasn’t stopped companies such as Fleury Michon from adding vegan products to their roster.
This dietary trend hasn’t caught on with everyone, especially the butchers' lobby who state that: "a whole part of French culture owes so much to artisan butchers, farmers, fishmongers and cheese shops". And that threat is now right at their doorsteps.
We hope you've enjoyed learning about how the French are navigating the social ramifications of The Cost of Meat! What do you think about the direction French food companies are taking as a reaction to the growing trend of vegetable based diets and meat substitutions? Join the conversations below!