With regards to the upcoming Easter holidays, WWF Switzerland calls out the effects of our consumption on nature today:
- Fish consumption peaks at Easter: 100g fillet of “grown” salmon is fed with about 175 grams of wild-caught herring, anchovies or sardines and 95 grams of soy.
- Before eating the egg, chickens need a lot of food. Swiss chickens eat mainly imported concentrate feed and have a poor calorie conversion: we put about 3.6 calories of concentrate feed into one egg calorie.
- During the Easter period, the CO2 emissions of lamb transported by plane increase, as consumption explodes between 50 and 85 percent of the year. A sixth of this meat arrives in Switzerland by plane from New Zealand and Australia.
- To cover the growing demand for Easter, an animal feed is produced. For this foraging, large areas of forest are converted to cropland, unique habitats for plants and animals are lost, fertile soil is destroyed, water is polluted, or smaller fish are caught and killed industrially.
Fish for Good Friday
In 2021, more fresh fish was consumed in Swiss households during Easter, especially Good Friday, than during the rest of the year. Salmon is the most popular edible fish in Switzerland, accounting for around 20 percent of retail sales in this category. However, the breeding of predatory fish such as salmon is a burden on both biodiversity and the climate. This is mainly due to the high nutritional requirement. This increases the pressure on stocks of small fish such as anchovies or sardines, which form the basis of the marine food chain. Most of the fish caught to produce fish feed can be eaten directly by humans. This would also have advantages as they are richer in important micronutrients such as calcium, iron and zinc than farmed fish.
Swiss egg producers brought more than 1.1 billion eggs to market in 2022. Upward trend On average, each person in Switzerland eats 195 eggs per year. During Easter and Christmas, consumption has increased by around 16% year-on-year. On average, a chicken needs 120 grams of concentrated feed per day. Extrapolating this to 195 eggs per person per year in Switzerland, each person indirectly consumes 23.5 kg of concentrated feed through eggs alone. This is inefficient and wastes valuable calories.
Half of the lamb consumed in Switzerland is imported. About 50 to 60 percent of that comes from New Zealand and Australia. Although most of the sheep graze in pastures, around 60 percent of the animals in these countries are taken to Switzerland after slaughter. Products that move around place a huge burden on the environment, as air traffic emissions are among the main causes of the climate crisis.
Keep the traditions, but reduce the general consumption
In line with the slogan “You don’t have to be perfect to protect the climate”, “less is more” applies to the consumption of these foods. It makes sense to treat fish, eggs and meat as delicacies and enjoy them consciously on special occasions like Easter. If we want to reduce the effects of the climate and biodiversity, and thus ourselves, we must reduce the average consumption throughout the year. “If we want to change something, it’s time to break the patterns we’ve learned,” says Isabel Jimenez, WWF-Switzerland seafood expert.