Shocking new figures reveal that the UK throws away millions of animals per year

Author: Victoria Smith

Read Time:   |  3rd July 2020

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Upsetting new figures from the meat industry have revealed a disturbing truth - the UK throws away millions of uneaten animals intended for consumption each year


Around 380,000 tonnes of meat is discarded each year in the UK, the equivalent of over 1 million cattle, 4.4 million pigs or an incredible 165 million chickens.

These animals, who feel pain, love, anger and fear are treated as disposable objects after being treated like commodities during their lives and discarded as waste in death.

‘Meat in a Net Zero World’

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is aiming to reduce this figure by 40% and so has developed the ‘Meat in a Net Zero World’ industry initiative under the Courtauld Commitment 2025 to tackle this issue.

A dedicated group comprised of key stakeholders has been assembled by WRAP under Courtauld 2025 to identify the areas with the largest impact and discover ways to ‘overcome barriers and avoid just moving problems along the supply chain.’

Inconvenient truth

Philip Mansbridge, Executive Director of ProVeg UK, believes that this scheme does not go far enough and ‘completely glosses over the vast numbers of animals slaughtered that end up discarded.’

In a statement sent to Vegan Food & Living, Mansbridge said: “Though any initiative to reduce waste and GHG is to be welcomed, the lack of any mention of the true scale of animals raised and slaughtered for no reason is all too familiar. The industry talks of stock, meat, supply chain, livestock, etc, but rarely mentions the word animal, which is the inconvenient truth of where meat comes from.

“This 380,000 tonnes of wasted meat equates to the equivalent of over 1 million cattle, 4.4 million pigs or an incredible 165 million chickens. It is hard to imagine the scale of these numbers, let alone the vast amounts of resources and land it takes to produce them.

“This waste is something that all of us are part of, it goes beyond the industry itself but until we start talking about actual animals and animal numbers rather than kilograms of product, it’s unlikely that true change can happen.

“The desire to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and increase supply chain efficiency is both admirable and necessary. Yet as interest in reducing our consumption of animals continues to grow globally, an open commitment on reducing the amounts of animals discarded in this process would also be welcomed,” added Mansbridge.

Written by

Victoria Smith

Vic is a freelance writer and content creator, passionate about ethical and environmental issues. When she’s not busy scribbling away she can be found visiting the best vegan restaurants in the UK and making delicious dairy-free coffees at a café in Essex. Her favourite animals are dogs, cows and pigs and her lifelong dream is to open an animal sanctuary with an onsite vegan café. You can find Vic on Instagram @vicsveganeats

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