The wob documents show that ‘sensitivities for the sector’ were discussed in the preparations for the campaign. Wakker Dier concludes from this that officials were afraid of resistance from the meat sector.

“We find that very striking, because it is a general government campaign,” said Hilhorst. “It’s not politics. It should be about educating citizens about what they can do for the climate, and not about political issues.”

Outgoing minister Carola Schouten (Agriculture) says she is not aware of possible lobbying from the meat sector.

The meat sector itself is also in favor of ‘less meat’. “Eating half a kilo of meat every day is not sustainable,” says Laurens Hoedemaker, chairman of the Central Organization for the Meat Sector (COV). Moreover, according to the Nutrition Center, that is not healthy. They recommend a maximum of half a kilo per week.

“But less meat is often a stepping stone for vegans’ lobby to no meat at all,” says Hoedemaker. “And we think that is a politically sensitive subject. That’s why I understand that the officials labeled it that way.”

Now in the campaign

The ministries say that for many people the climate transition in 2019 was a lot further away “from their world of experience” than it is now. That is why we opted for “small, low-threshold adjustments” that make the living environment of citizens more sustainable. Making people enthusiastic was paramount.

In December 2019, the advice to eat less meat was still added to the campaign. “In consultation with consumers and behavioral experts, we looked at how this could be communicated via a positive social norm.” The outcome was that people were advised to choose a more varied diet, with legumes and nuts as substitutes for meat.

“That’s very good,” said Anne Hilhorst of Wakker Dier. “There has also been commotion about it after the campaign was launched. It has been recorded since then, but unfortunately still somewhere on the website and not in a radio commercial. That would be a nice next step.”

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