The Dutch landscape is often related to flowers, windmills and typical black/white cows in green polders. But is this still true?

Last week different media were giving the meat eater a hard time. Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow food movement, called to eat less and more local meat to keep local economic systems alive and continue having a diversity in meat and dairy products.

Besides that the Dutch public broadcast VPRO broadcasted a special in which they researched how to make people eat less meat and fish for reasons which are commonly known; animals produce a lot of CO2 and other gasses which cause the earth to heat up, farms become factories to produce enough meat for all of us and when we continue fishing the oceans like we do now the oceans will be empty within fifty years from now.

Since people got able to eat meat daily (starting somewhere after WWII) the valuation of the product changed completely. Meat became a necessity in daily dinners instead of a luxury for the weekend. The industry understood this and made sure there was plenty available. More animals were breed using less square meters. This ended up in the so called megastallen which future is subject of discussion in politics now.

An average Dutch person eats 85 kilo meat a year. Since there are almost seventy million of them, this means a total amount of 1.445.000.000 kilos all together. If this is spread out over the different types of animals the Dutch eat there should be 6.568.482 pigs, 144.500.000 poultry, and 481.667 cows and other animals.

One of the solutions to house all the animals is the megastallen. These stalls are like fabrics where an enormous amount of cows, pigs or chickens can be housed. Seen from a producer’s eye this can be a very effective way of breeding animals. They are close together which means feeding them is easy, collecting their excrements can be done automatically and you don’t have to run for them when they are ready for the slaughterhouse.

But for food- and animal lovers, these stalls have more disadvantages than advantages. Animals have minimum spaces, diseases can spread easy and the growing goes way to fast. All this comes back in the price and quality of the meat which usually both are low.

Now people have more time to spent time out of the city having a picnic with family or to make a big walk or cycle trip they should consider to give the animals a break as well. Not only by eating a little less of them, but also by making their lives better. You pay a bit more but eat a bit less.

The animals can join the sun and the rain, run around, eat fresh grass and drink water from pools and ditches. And tourist could enjoy the Dutch landscape like they expected it to be.

For those who like to know more about farming animals, please check the suggested links and literature of Birgit Boogaard.