Scientists are increasingly pointing to a deeper lifestyle change, one they say could be the single biggest way to help the planet, and it’s not recycling more or taking the bus.
They want us to eat less meat.
This week, the Committee on Climate Change recommended a 20% reduction in meat and dairy consumption on the grounds that methane from sheep and predominantly cattle contribute to global warming.
If we all swapped just one red meat meal per week it could reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 million tonnes – equal to taking 16 million cars off the road.
Cutting down is something we should all respond to – a practical demand that is also better for your pocket and health. It might also help us switch to more ethically sourced meat too if budgets allow.
But just days before the report was announced, vegan activists stormed my local Greggs branch.
Shouting anti-meat slogans and wearing pig masks, this militant protest, one of many by Direct Action Everywhere, shook up staff and left few sympathetic to their cause.
Ironically, it was Greggs’ soya sausage roll which played a part in taking vegan food mainstream.
Protests by extreme vegans are hugely alienating and are not going to encourage enough to ditch their beloved bacon sandwich or Sunday roast to make a difference.
“Fake” meat burgers and hot dogs are also not the answer. These expensive alternatives are made in laboratories with a list of unrecognisable ingredients as long as your arm.
Some are also flown in from the other side of the world.
Instead we need a sensible approach.
Countries in the Middle East and subcontinent have been serving up healthy and delicious vegetarian food for centuries without the need to call it plant-based or flexitarian.
The only way we are going to meet this reduction target as a nation is if we stop pointing the finger at meat-eaters.
In turn this will encourage more to make switches which will end up benefitting us all.
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