Supply chain challenges, consumer misconceptions, animal rights activism … the obstacles facing the animal breeding community are substantial and I spend most of my time in and focus on these columns. At our recent virtual stakeholder summit, the Animal Ag Alliance decided to focus on how we can turn these barriers into opportunities to ensure a bright future for animal husbandry.

One of the occasions that came up several times in various discussions was the need to better articulate the unique nutritional value of meat, poultry, dairy products and eggs. With so much talk about sustainable eating and a few voices calling for everyone to cut out meat to save the planet, we all need to be more comfortable communicating about nutrition.

“In my nutrition courses I learned that animal foods provide high quality protein and bioavailable vitamins A, vitamins D3, B12, iron, iodine, zinc, calcium, folic acid and important essential fatty acids that are difficult to obtain locally in sufficient quantities alone from plant-based foods, ”noted Alison Van Eenennaam, PhD, UC-Davis, in her Virtual Summit session on how animal husbandry can more effectively communicate its value in the face of the rise in alternative protein options.

Registered nutritionist Kim Kirchherr also spoke about nutrition when choosing food, saying, “Think of value and values ​​… what do people get for the dollars they spend and the calories they eat?”

Animal proteins are a nutritional powerhouse, and we need to be able to explain this to consumers looking for healthy, nutritious options – especially with so much misinformation out there. The importance of this is underscored by a recent study which said that after being shown content that should make them feel guilty about meat, participants still ate meals with meat – they just chose healthier meat options (for example, grilled vs. fried chicken). .

One of the study’s authors stated, “Research shows that our self-interest often wins when our moral standards and selfish desires conflict. As we’ve found, when people feel guilty about animal welfare, people don’t tend to avoid meat, but instead choose a healthier option to justify their lifestyle. ”

Aside from claiming that animal welfare is something people should feel guilty about, this study shows the importance of diet in consumer food choices and why we need to make sure we share their beliefs about the role of meat in healthy eating Reaffirm Diet.

The study’s authors concluded that “messages” [from those hoping to curb meat consumption] should at the same time instill guilt by emphasizing the human-like feelings of animals and countering popular beliefs about the nutritional value of meat. ”I am sure activist groups will take up this challenge and focus more on the messages about nutrition, which means we have to do the same.

More from Hannah Thompson-Weeman:

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What’s next for animal activism in 2021 and what can we do about it?