Swedish farmers protesting against the meat-free days at schools in Nyköping. Photo: David Hårseth/TT

Farmers protest against meat-free day

Wednesday is meat-free day for students at schools in Nyköping, south of Stockholm. But not everybody thinks this is a great idea. The Federation of Swedish Farmers has organised a protest action. They have grilling and offered free hamburgers to students outside schools in Nyköping for those who cannot survive a lunch without meat.

According to Karin Andersson, farmer and head of the Federation of Swedish Farmers' organisation in Nyköping, the problem is more complex than it just being a question of eating meat or not. What farmers would like to see, is more focus on Swedes buying Swedish meat instead of imported meat, says Karin Andersson.

"This is not about pitting vegetarian food against meat. We think that schools can absolutely serve vegetarian food sometimes. Variation is the best thing," Andersson told Swedish Radio News.

Andersson believes the discussion should be about what we eat every day and should avoid singling out meat as not good for the environment. The action is meant to bring attention to the fact that different meats have a drastic variety of environmental impacts. The Federation of Swedish Farmers would like to see more Swedish meat and less imported meat eaten in Sweden.

But Eli Röös, researcher at Sweden's Agricultural University, says she thinks of the protest action is silly. "I think it is a bit ridiculous and childish and that it takes away something from such an important question. It is obvious that we need to reduce our meat consumption both for environmental and health reasons," Röös said to Swedish Radio News.

Röös adds that while she does not like the action itself, she understands the frustration the Swedish meat farmers are feeling. But she says that the protest is counter-productive and that the meat-free days could help Swedish meat farmers because with the money that people save on those days can go to buying higher-quality meats on the other days of the week.

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