Meatless days won’t save world

The United Nations wants us to eat less meat to reduce our carbon footprint.

People should have one meat-free day a week if they want to make a personal and effective sacrifice that would help tackle climate change, the world’s leading authority on global warming has told The Observer

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which last year earned a joint share of the Nobel Peace Prize, said that people should then go on to reduce their meat consumption even further.

I hope he knows more about climate change than diet because health professionals are generally agreed that we shouldn’t eat too much meat at all and that three to five small servings of lean red meat a week is enough.

So we should already be having a couple of meat-free days if we want to lower our risk of heart disease and some cancers. But urging us to do it for environmental reasons is more contentious.

Obesity is literally a growing problem for some but others are starving because the world is short of protein and the mad rush to replace fossil fuels with bio fuels is one of the reasons for that. This prescription for meat-free days could also have unforeseen consequences without reducing carbon emissions.

I hope the work on climate change for which the doctor is so highly regarded is more credible than his pronouncement on meat eating because he doesn’t seem to realise that that some people going without meat doesn’t necessarily alter the number of animals being farmed and the total amount of meat being eaten. Farmers might keep the same size of herds and find new markets and customers for their produce.

Also not all meat production is equal. The extensive grasslands production methods used in New Zealand, Australia and Argentina has a much lower carbon footprint than intensive grain fed systems employed in most of Europe – even when you take into account transporting the meat part way round the world to get it to the market.

Crop production and processing isn’t necessarily equal either. While generally producing a given amount of nutrients from crops may result in lower carbon emissions than producing the same amount from meat; some meat production could be more carbon-efficient than growing, harvesting and producing some crops.

The science is not settled on climate change and unscientific pronouncements like these from Dr Pacahuri only add to the questions.

[Bob Edlin has a related post at Dig n Stir.]

Hat tip: Inquiring Mind

6 Responses to Meatless days won’t save world

  1. adamsmith1922 says:

    Good post, and from a varying perspective. Good to see some debate and discourse arising.

    It is important that people think carefully about the implications of simplistic, superficially attractive concepts, especially where they can be twisted for other purposes as I noted in my post.

    By the way whilst not a climate change jihadist, I happen to think that there are sound economic reasons for seeking to reduce carbon and other emissions, if this helps mitigate other impacts then all well and good.

  2. healthyoupromo says:

    For a health eating pattern we need servings of meat every day.
    However meat is now classified in a food group ‘Meat & Meat Alternatives.’

    They are suggesting that we cut down on animal products such as beef, lamb, pork etc.
    This is ok because other foods in the same group can be eaten. Fish is in this food group, and it is recommended that we eat about two servings a week for health.

    If you are really into this one day a week abstenence, you can make this day a fish day.

    If you don’t eat fish, there are legumes, beans and other meat alternatives that will give you the same nutrition.
    Or you can simply cut down on your daily intake of animal products daily.

  3. Patsy says:

    What a load of old bollocks! this prat from the UN (who incidentally comes from a culture of vegetarianism anyway) telling us what we should eat? As humans we NEED meat for our health and wellbeing, idiots in the USA have being trying to raise their kids as vegan/vegetarians and they are now discovering that their kids are as malnourished as 3rd world kids through lack of protein. (Fox news 2 weeks ago)
    All because of these idealistic but totally BAD dictates of the politically correct left.
    (My blood pressure is still up after listening to that idiot Parker waffling on about climate change this morning!!)

  4. Arno says:

    Please don’t close your eyes for the reality.

    If I check Fox news for vegetarian/vegan, I only see positive news.

    Check what meat is doing for your health in the hospital.

    Don’t eat fear.

  5. Patsy says:

    Arno…….. you need to learn how to navigate the Net……. as I said… THIS was on Fox news and there are other reports too, please pay attention :o|

    Woman Starves Children on Vegan Diet

    This is from a Fox television station, Arizona: “A Scottsdale woman who severely malnourished her three children was sentenced to 30 years in prison, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced Thursday. Kimu Parker was convicted on three counts of child abuse and received 10 years for each count… ‘Thirty years in prison is entirely appropriate for a person who almost starved to death three defenseless children. We will strongly oppose any attempt to reduce this sentence,'” said the state attorney there. “…Parker’s 3-year-old weighed 12 pounds, her 9-year-old child weighed 29 pounds and her 11-year-old child weighed 36 pounds,” and she had them on “a strict vegan diet.”

    “This is one of the more heartbreaking cases of child abuse this office has seen in recent times,” said the attorney, Andrew Thomas. “We are relieved the children survived and are now doing well.” They just got back from McDonald’s. I just threw that in. “But we take great issue with comments made by the judge in this case that he may ask the State Board of Clemency to reduce this defendant’s prison sentence,” because after all they won’t have their mother. Of course, if they have their mother, they might die. So it’s like the Menendez case. What do we do? What do we do?

  6. Arno says:


    Thanks for the lesson.
    I still think it is an incident. There are also a lot of omnivorius parents who give their children too much, too less or wrong food.

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