The number of animals killed in UK slaughterhouses has increased over the last two years - despite an increasing number of people reducing their red meat intake.
According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), around 28 million more farm animals were killed for meat in 2019, a 5.4 percent increase over the last two years.
Reports say the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (Aims) puts the increase down to greater demand for meat abroad.
Increased export sales
"From an Aims perspective, the increase is due to increased export sales across red meat, and in particular pork," a spokesperson told PA.
"Increased tonnage was sent as a result of their outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) which decimated the Chinese pig population during 2019."
While pork consumption is expected to decline in the EU, it is rising in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, according to a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) published late last year.
Lex Rigby is campaigns manager for animal welfare organization Viva!. She told Plant Based News it is 'disappointing' to see that UK slaughter figures have risen, but added that Viva! will not be disheartened by this news.
"In the last year, veganism has continued to grow and with more people choosing vegan options, there has been an explosion of products on the high streets and in supermarkets. This means it is only becoming easier to choose vegan in the UK," she said.
"The same might not be said currently for other countries – which may be one reason why we have seen an increase in exported meat – however, we mustn't forget there is still less demand for meat products here in the UK.
"We are confident that this will soon become a global trend as more people realize the catastrophic impact of eating meat and dairy on the environment. The climate crisis affects us all and so it won't be long until we see a global drop in slaughter figures."