Sustainable Travel for Conscious Carnivores?

It's easy to come up with sustainable travel options for vegetarians, but what about those eco-carnivores? Here are a few countries that serve delicious (and presumably sustainable) meat.

In New Zealand, home of the meat pie, cows and sheep rarely live inside. A classic New Zealand sustainable travel scene includes a flock of sheep grazing on rich green grass with a mountain backdrop.  Farm animals are sometimes fed silage (a supplement), especially in the winter months, but they're generally a healthy bunch. The Meat Industry Association in New Zealand keeps a close eye on animal welfare and meat safety. So, it's no surprise that New Zealanders are often listed among countries with the highest meat consumption, recently record around 313.3 pounds per capita.

Austrian animal welfare laws are (supposedly) considered some of the best in the world. Also, Austria apparently has a handful of hard-working farmers that cure their own meat. They raise traditional breeds of pigs, which are reported have more flavor than modern pig breeds. Also, they eat a healthy diet of grass, hay and peas (and no corn). It's hard to say exactly what percentage of Austria's pork comes from piggy wonderland, but the country seems to care about their meat. They also farm deer, if you're feeling adventurous. Austria is among the countries with the highest meat consumption, which is no surprise considering those cold mountain winters. In any case, Austria is a lovely sustainable travel option, and carnivores can be on the lookout for a humane dish of Tafelspitz (boiled beef in broth).

The first BSE crisis occurred in France in March of 1996, and the second in October of 2000. After both incidents, people began eating much less beef. French meat marketers learned the value of labels, though, and supermarkets began to favor local suppliers. Additional food safety groups were set up.  Now, there are so many groups measuring the safety of meat in France (and the EU), that it's difficult to keep track. So, it may not be a sure-bet for carnivorous sustainable travel, but at a nice restaurant, you can enjoy that steak-frites guilt free.

Plenty of other countries offer delicious meat dishes, though it's hard to determine their safety or animal welfare regulations. For example, Argentines sure know how to make a divine steak, and if you're coming from Europe or the United States, you'll find the prices divine also.  Uruguayans also eat a lot of beef. So do Australians. All of these countries probably make fine sustainable travel destinations,  though it's difficult to determine the quality of the meat via Internet research. If you have any special knowledge, please comment.

And,  in case you're wondering, here are few places you might not want to visit for a meat-eating extravaganza:  China, Iran, Spain, Turkey and the United States. According to a new global monitoring tool, these five countries are the worse food safety offenders, based on food contamination data collected during 2003-2008. Again, who knows if the data is reliable, but at least you can be aware of the potentially meaty risks.

photo credit: Philip Capper