Credit: Rhiannon Doherty

The steaks are too high

Credit: Rhiannon Doherty

Georgina Hayes

Isn’t it about time for the Government to weigh in on meat consumption?

Unless you’ve spent the last few months burying your head under the steak-loving sand, you’ll have seen the endless stream of scientists coming out to say that, in no uncertain terms, we need to significantly lessen our meat consumption if we have any hope of saving the planet. The simple fact is this: a huge cut in carbon emissions is needed to protect the climate, and the meat industry causes carbon emissions like no other. (Not to mention it’s anthropocentric, cruel and morally repugnant, but that’s just my personal opinion).
The news has been met with both ire and urgent cries of “I told you so” on social media, but with resounding silence from the government. No big deal, though – it only concerns the imminent existential threat to our entire planet.
Last month, Claire Perry – the Climate Minister – told the BBC that it’s not the government’s job to advise the public on a climate-friendly diet. She said: “I like lots of local meat. I don’t think we should be in the business of prescribing to people how they should run their diets.”
This would be acceptable if Perry weren’t the Climate Minister of a government that’s been hand-in-hand with colossal wanker Jamie Oliver in nannying the public on what they should or shouldn’t eat and drink (sugar tax!). The efforts this government has made to limit all things good in the British food world has been both continuous and condescending, so why won’t they act when what we eat will impact the entire planet rather than just our waistlines?
Craig Bennett from Friends of the Earth responded: “The evidence is now very clear that eating less meat could be one of the quickest ways to reduce climate pollution. Reducing meat consumption will also be good for people’s health and will free up agricultural land to make space for nature. It’s a complete no-brainer, and it’s a dereliction of duty for government to leave the job of persuading people to eat less meat to the green groups.”
No matter how much you like meat, you’re ignorant to think that what Bennett said is wrong. Politicians are ruled by public opinion, and public opinion still seems to sway towards denial and sneering at vegetarians and vegans when it comes to the contentious issue of the survival of our planet. Despite meat-free diets being undeniably on the rise (I’ve been a vegetarian for ten years now, and I’ve gone from the odd one out at meals to the majority), meat’s climate impact still seems too controversial for politicians to throw their weight behind.
If you’ve seen recent headlines on the impending “hothouse earth” and haven’t felt that you should at least consider reducing your meat intake, I don’t know if there’s anything I can say to change your mind. It seems popular on Twitter at the moment to point the finger and corporations, but nobody seems to care that much about how exactly to challenge them either.
They do have a point, though – how are we supposed to convince the general public to reduce their meat intake when the government won’t even comment on the issue when the stakes are this high? In my view, it’s none of the government’s business if we want to drink full-fat coke or get a two-for-one pizza – it’s a personal choice that doesn’t impact catastrophically on the climate. Ever-afraid of being the dreaded “nanny state”, the Tories are still happy to tell us what we should and shouldn’t eat, so long as that advice doesn’t pertain to the survival of our planet.
If they want to do something genuinely useful, though, they should stop making people’s lives harder when they want a fizzy drink at Subway and start challenging the prevailing idea that eating meat is anything other than immoral and increasingly dangerous to the survival of the planet.


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