Debate over eating meat gets heated in Spanish politics


MADRID — The amount of meat that Spaniards eat has rattled the unity of Spain’s governing coalition.

Members of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s progressist Cabinet are clashing over whether to discourage people in Spain from consuming so much ham, beef and other forms of animal protein. Supporters favor messaging on the health and environmental benefits of plant-based diets.

The internal debate ballooned to the point that the primer minister waded in from Lithuania while on an official visit there Thursday.

“To me, if you give me a rare, ribeye steak,.. that’s unbeatable,” Sánchez said, stating his unequivocal position.

In a video released Wednesday on social media, Consumption Minister Alberto Garzón, a leader of the coalition’s junior far-left partner party, called on people to consider putting less meat on their plates.

“I’m worried about the health of our citizens and the health of our planet,” Garzón said.

Fellow Cabinet member and Agriculture Minister Luis Planas called the campaign “unfortunate” and “unfair” for a Spanish industry worth 10 billion euros ($11.8 billion) in exports alone.

A platform representing the six main industry associations published an open letter calling the Consumption Ministry’s campaign “libelous” and alleging that Garzón had cherry-picked statistics to diminish against an economic sector that employs 2.5 million people.

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