EU spends millions in taxpayer money on meat ads

30 April 2024

Last year, the European Union spent nearly 75 million euros in subsidies for the promotion of animal products, of which 29 million went to campaigns encouraging people to eat more meat. This was twice the amount spent in 2022, reported Dutch animal rights organisation Dier&Recht [1]. It is unfathomable that, the midst of a climate crisis, the EU chooses to subsidise the promotion of an industry as polluting as the livestock sector.

Last year, the EU had 143 million euros to spend on advertising for European agricultural products. Over half of this went to the promotion of animal products, while dwindling amounts are allocated to promoting fruit and vegetables.

Anja Hazekamp (Dutch MEP for the Party for the Animals) had already pleaded with former climate commissioner Frans Timmermans and agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski to abolish EU subsidies for the promotion of meat. At that time, Timmermans said he did not want to stop these subsidies, and although Wojciechowski expressed a desire to encourage a transition to a more plant-based diet, subsidies for the promotion of meat have not yet been abolished.

This European Commission website shows how much money the EU allocated to advertising in 2022 and the preceding years. The website clearly shows that a mind-boggling number of campaigns for polluting and animal-unfriendly products were launched with EU money in all continents (except Antarctica) during this period. A number of earlier campaigns openly met with negative criticism, such as the ‘Become a Beefatarian’ campaign for which the EU put down 3.6 million euros [2].

Many European campaigns today are set up to counteract to current decline consumption of certain animal products – a decline which should actually be embraced by the European Union! Animal-based foods account for 84% of the greenhouse gases derived from the production of food in the EU, after all, while delivering only 35% of the calories [3]. Multiple studies, including several conducted on behalf of the EU, have demonstrated that a transition to a more plant-based diet is urgently needed to restrict global warming [4].

Applications for EU funding by the agri-lobby often tend to refer to the lobby’s battle against “hoaxes and fake news”. The Belgian Confederation of the Dairy Industry, for example, stated in an application that yielded it 2,349,753 euros that “there is a lot of misinformation circulating in the media on this subject, which is very confusing to consumers”. It is certainly true that there is a lot of misinformation, but most of this actually stems directly from the industry, as shown by the video below.

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Several campaigns

The EU spent 500,000 euros on a campaign to reverse the declining trend in the consumption of rabbit meat. In addition, almost 10 million euros (!) was spent to encourage young people and children to drink more milk. European milk campaigns have even reached countries as far away as Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire, as communities there are said to be “immature” in terms of dairy consumption.

Pork Lovers Europe, for example, applied for a 1.4 million-euro grant to organise events with workshops and play areas for children, to which civil servants were also invited. Guests even received gifts: “Pork Lovers masks for children” and “bags for housewives” according to the application. The agri-lobby is completely shameless.

Change is drastically needed

The European Union likes to present itself as an institution that places great value on science and sustainability. Although the EU initiates large-scale projects to combat disinformation and brags about the Green Deal, it is ironic that it also spends millions of euros on perpetuating and greenwashing the animal industry, in which at least 8.4 billion land mammals and a multitude of marine animals are killed every year.

European agricultural policy therefore seems to be devoid of even the most basic scientific understanding of climate, nature, humans and other animals. Money isn’t the problem here: European agricultural policy is the EU’s biggest cost item, with an annual budget of more than €55 billion, of which 82% is allocated to the animal products [5]. Despite this, 40% of all European farmers closed down their enterprises between 2005 and 2020. It is not nature legislation, but factory farming, unfair competition and big agribusiness margins that are to blame for this.

It is high time to put an end to the agricultural policy pursued by the EU in the past decades, and abolishing subsidies for advertising meat is an absolute no-brainer in this regard.


Elections for the European Parliament are being held this year between 6 and 9 June. This is your chance to stand up for the rights of animals and the planet, and present a united front against the agro-lobby. Animals may not be able to vote for their rights, but you can!