Interesting article caught my eye today which takes to task the widely accepted view that eating meat is bad for the environment.
Eat meat and save the planet (Sunday Times, P18) looks at the argument put forward by author Simon Fairlie in his book Meat: A Benign Extravagance.
And it’s such a compelling argument it already prompted a high-profile revision of his viewpoint by environment writer George Monbiot who earlier this month published the CommentisFree post, “I was wrong about veganism. Let them eat meat – but farm it properly”.
This attack on the ‘meat is bad’ mantra doesn’t just fly in face of campaigning vegetarians, but also esteemed scientists such as Rajendra Pachauri, who chaired the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and who called on people to eat less meat in order to help in the fight against global warming a couple of years ago.
In his book, Fairlie’s central point is to take apart some of the commonly bandied statistics in respect of the damage caused by meat production and test their validity.
For example, he claims that the widely quoted statistic around the volume of water used by cattle (drinking and pasture) of 100,000 litres of water for 1kg of beef is bunkum.
And he draws on his experience of raising a steer which produced more than 125kg of meat.
“That means he would have had to have consumed 12,500 tons of water in his 16 month life, or 25,000 litres on each day of his life.”
An interesting debate which people will have strong views on either side certainly, but it left me wondering why it’s so hard to get reliable data on these issues. Why are we left lurching between claims and counter claims about how exactly our food is produced?