The Slovenia Times

Meat industry's beef with Golob

Environment & NaturePolitics
Prime Minister Robert Golob delivers an address to the EU Parliament. Photo: An┼że Malovrh/STA

Prime Minister Robert Golob is facing backlash from Slovenia's meat industry for comments suggesting people should eat less meat, adding to his controversial decision of reportedly appointing mostly vegans to a newly created food advisory body.

The meat industry is up in arms regarding the part in his recent EU Parliament speech where he said that "each of us can start a change ... Just switch to less meat - I'm not saying no meat - but consume less meat, let's consume more plant-based food."

This has prompted the country's Meat Industry Association to call Golob's appeal to cut meat consumption "dangerous". The association added that the trend towards healthy eating must follow common sense and the guidelines of nutritional experts.

"Layman calls - and more or less blatant lobbying - to restrict livestock farming and meat consumption are, from a variety of perspectives, at the very least harmful, if not outright dangerous," the association said.

"We see your calls to reduce meat consumption as a clear conflict of interest between the government and the Slovenian meat industry, which is trying to strike the right balance between the social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development," the association said.

Composition of advisory body another sticking point

Golob's statement was not the only thing that irked the industry. The appointment of a Strategic Council for Nutrition, which has been tasked with preparing guidance for updated national dietary guidelines, has also left a bitter taste.

Several media have reported that the advisory body does not include a single representative of farmers or the food industry, medical or veterinary experts, whereas more than half are reportedly vegans.

The Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry, responding to the council's composition, warned against demonising the Slovenian livestock farming industry.

Golob said half of the council members were yet to be appointed. The full line-up was to be clear at the maiden session in January.

Meat as campaign issue

This is not the first time Golob has raised the issue of meat consumption. In the campaign for the general election this year he suggested people should eat less meat to reduce humanity's environmental impact and to address the shortages of wheat at the time due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"We all talk about climate change. Agriculture is a very important factor. Livestock breeding and meat consumption are excessive and only a day or two without meat ... will quickly resolve this lack of wheat for livestock in Slovenia," he said in a campaign debate.

Golob faced immediate backlash on social media at the time, especially from conservative parties, whose base mostly resides in rural areas. One often repeated refrain was that Golob is trying to "steal our meat".

Slovenians consume a lot of meat

Statistics Office data show the average resident of Slovenia consumed almost 90 kilograms of meat in 2021, significantly above the EU average of 70 kilograms. Pork and poultry account for two-thirds of all meat consumed.

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