Meet and Greet
by Elsa-Brändström-Gymnasium Oberhausen
March 1st, 2018
We arrived together at the RWI Leibnitz Institute for Economic Research building in Essen for the initial ‘Kick-Off’ meeting where we expected to meet RWI researcher from the department of “Environment and Resources” Lukas Tomberg. Lukas was to act as our liaison and representative for RWI for the YES! – Young Economic Summit. The meeting began at 10 a.m. with everyone making short introductions. Also present at the meeting were Kai Meinke from the YES! and other staff members from the RWI.
Photo: (c) YES! / Kai Meinke
At about 10.30 Lukas introduced the topic for the YES 2018 “The Economics of Meat Consumption.” He talked about the quantity of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere by the production of various food groups (e.g. dairy, vegetables, fish) and we were shocked by how high it is with the production of meat. He also outlined the potential methods which the government could employ to influence the amount of meat consumed and therefore reduce CO2 emissions, either by taxation or limiting value. We learned about homo-economicus and ‘nudging’ to prevent consumers from buying factory-farmed products. Also, he talked about providing information on packaging to customers to prevent cognitive dissonance – in which consumers are distanced from the impact of this product’s production.
After this preliminary discussion of the topic, the second part of the meeting was used to discuss our own ideas and answer any questions we had. Prior to the meeting, we had already come up with several ideas to provide alternatives for meat, such as ‘in-vitro meat’ or ideas for nudging, e.g. marking meat products the way we do eggs. We also had the idea that we could make informative presentations to show people the hidden costs of our meat consumption. Next, we talked about creating a mind-map that includes every problem caused by meat consumption to see which effects are particularly prevalent.
We finished the meeting by discussing organisation and logistics, for example how to make a good presentation, when we will next meet and what our next steps with research should be. Before starting our journey back to Oberhausen, we took a group photograph in the RWI foyer. On our way back to Oberhausen we talked excitedly about the meeting and the fresh ideas and impetus it had given us. Now the real work can begin…
The experience at the RWI in Essen has made us even more determined to find a way to reduce meat consumption significantly. We all have our own personal reasons for participating in the project (about which you can read about in our team profiles), but there is also a collective motivation that drives all of us: our culture of meat consumption needs to change and quickly.
The amount of meat the world produces/consumes must be drastically reduced, and this will only be possible when politicians, industry leaders and consumers the world over realise we cannot continue this over-consumption without damaging the planet irreparably for future generations. If we continue on this current path, economic problems in countries all over the world will increase, and our environment will be destroyed until we reach a point of no return.
We want to spread this message, want to open the eyes of those who do not know the true consequences of the industrial factory-farming production of meat. Our voices must be heard – and this is what we want to achieve by participating in the YES! project!