SAINT BERNARD SWITZERLAND’S NATIONAL ANIMAL

Switzerland’s top dog, the Saint Bernard, is being given recognition by the city of Bern, which is staging an exhibition of colorful doggie sculptures from Saturday.

The BernARTiner exhibition runs from July 1st to September 30th and features more than 100 artworks each individually decorated by different artists.

The large but gentle brown and white dog has a long and close connection with Switzerland and was historically valued for its role in avalanche rescues.

Barry, the country’s most famous avalanche rescue dog, is said to have saved over 40 people in his 12 years working on the Great Saint Bernard Pass.

All the sculptures were unveiled earlier this month at a vernissage on the square in front of the Swiss parliament.

Now the handmade larger-than-life-sized sculptures are going on display at different locations across the city. An app is available from the BernARTiner website to help people track down the dogs.

A variety of Swiss artists, including Ted Scapa and Walter Wegmüller, gave their unique touch to the unfinished works, which will be auctioned for charities at the end of the exhibition.

One of the charities chosen is the Barry Foundation, which ensures the survival of the breed with its kennels in Switzerland.

Meanwhile, our poll has voted the Saint Bernard Switzerland’s national animal.

Thirty-five percent of our readers chose Saint Bernard as best representing Switzerland. Runner up was the ibex with 30 percent, followed by the cow with 25 percent.

For Saint Bernard’s sake, here are five reasons for giving up meat:

  1. The environmental impact is huge

Livestock farming has a vast environmental footprint. It contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation.

Nowhere is this impact more apparent than climate change – livestock farming contributes 18% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This is more than all emissions from ships, planes, trucks, cars and all other transport put together.

Climate change alone poses multiple risks to health and well-being through increased risk of extreme weather events – such as floods, droughts and heatwaves – and has been described as the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century.

Reducing consumption of animal products is essential if we are to meet global greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets – which are necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. 

  1. It requires masses of grain, water, and land

Meat production is highly inefficient – this is particularly true when it comes to red meat. To produce one kilogram of beef requires 25 kilograms of grain – to feed the animal – and roughly 15,000 litres of water. Pork is a little less intensive and chicken less still.

The scale of the problem can also be seen in land use: around 30% of the earth’s land surface is currently used for livestock farming. Since food, water and land are scarce in many parts of the world, this represents an inefficient use of resources.

  1. It hurts the global poor

Feeding grain to livestock increases global demand and drives up grain prices, making it harder for the world’s poor to feed themselves. Grain could instead be used to feed people, and water used to irrigate crops.

If all grain were fed to humans instead of animals, we could feed an extra 3.5 billion people. In short, industrial livestock farming is not only inefficient but also not equitable.

  1. It causes unnecessary animal suffering

If we accept, as many people do, that animals are sentient creatures whose needs and interests matter, then we should ensure these needs and interests are at least minimally met and that we do not cause them to suffer unnecessarily.

Industrial livestock farming falls well short of this minimal standard. Most meat, dairy and eggs are produced in ways that largely or completely ignore animal welfare – failing to provide sufficient space to move around, contact with other animals, and access to the outdoors.

In short, industrial farming causes animals to suffer without good justification.

  1. It is making us ill

At the production level, industrial livestock farming relies heavily on antibiotic use to accelerate weight gain and control infection – in the US, 80% of all antibiotics are consumed by the livestock industry.

This contributes to the growing public health problem of antibiotic resistance. Already, more than 23,000 people are estimated to die every year in the US alone from resistant bacteria. As this figure continues to rise, it becomes hard to overstate the threat of this emerging crisis.

High meat consumption – especially of red and processed meat – typical of most rich industrialized countries is linked with poor health outcomes, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and various cancers.

These diseases represent a major portion of the global disease burden so reducing consumption could offer substantial public health benefits.

Currently, the average meat intake for someone living in a high-income country is 200-250g a day, far higher than the 80-90g recommended by the United Nations. Switching to a more plant-based diet could save up to 8 million lives a year worldwide by 2050 and lead to healthcare related savings and avoided climate change damages of up to $1.5 trillion.

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