The European Vegetarian Union, an umbrella organisation serving the interests of millions of vegetarians in Europe, appreciates the possibility of taking part in the forum discussion relating to the White Paper on a European Communication Policy, a scheme that puts special emphasis on the rights of minorities to express their views and concerns.
Vegetarians in Europe are indeed a minority. However this special community has reached a formidable size and is growing at enormous speed. The number of vegetarians in Germany, Italy and the UK alone already amounts to almost 18 million, equal to the population of Australia. These people are forced, via their tax payments, to participate financially in things they abhor, namely the daily slaughter-massacre which not only costs the lives of billions of animals but also quite often leads to mind-boggling cruelties. Unfortunately, all these law-abiding vegetarian citizens get very little in return.
In Europe, great care is taken to satisfy the needs of any religious group with special food requirements. Unfortunately vegetarians are not so lucky. More often than not those who do not want to eat meat do not find suitable supplies of food in public places, such as hospitals, schools, universities, government and other official establishments.
Furthermore the advantages of a vegetarian lifestyle for the individual and society are totally ignored. No research is taking place to examine beneficial alternatives to meat consumption. The problems meat entails are not acknowledged. On the contrary, as recently as 25 April 2006 the Council backed a Commission 'proposal to allow the EU budget to share the cost of market support measures in the eggs and poultry sector' (IP/06/527). No figures were given but as always in these cases it can be expected that the costs are astronomical.
The European Vegetarian Union considers it its duty to stress the fact that a healthier option does exist: vegetarianism.
Bird flu is spreading across the globe like wildfire, BSE is still not totally under control. So it is no wonder that consumers are losing their confidence in meat. This dramatic situation calls for serious research into and promotion of healthier, more ecologically and financially sound and more compassionate options.
It is high time to accept vegetarianism officially as a valid and beneficial way of life.
Submitted to the EU on 2 May 2006