All this cheap meat will cost us the Earth

25th February, 2010

The headline read “Why I lost my appetite for meat”, the article was by a favourite novelist, but my wife wouldn’t pick up the magazine. “If I read it, I know I’ll have to become a vegetarian again and I just can’t bear to,” she said. I was braver — nothing this side of Armageddon is going to make me give up meat — and I did read it. The excerpts from Jonathan Safran Foer’s new non-fiction book Eating Animals left me feeling uncomfortable — so much so that I had to read the whole thing.

Read on here at Times Online

Word of Mouth: Will turning vegetarian save the planet?

24th February 2010, The Guardian Online

Even committed carnivores can’t dodge the facts: we’re going to have to cut down on the red stuff. A bit.

“If one cares about the environment, one must care about eating animals … Someone who regularly eats factory-farmed products cannot call himself an environmentalist without divorcing that word from its meaning.”
Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals

The numbers look pretty unarguable. So much so that – as a senitive meat-eating, trying-hard green – I have to ask if Safran Foer is being too soft: can any meat-eater at all call themselves an environmentalist?

Livestock agriculture produces more greenhouse gas emissions than every train, truck, car and aeroplane put together. The resources consumed by one average omnivore in pursuit of animal protein would nourish as many as 10 vegetarians (there’s lots of argument about this stat – some would put the ratio higher). So, shift people’s diets and the planet can support more people – in fact, it will quite easily deal with the 9.2 billion at which population is currently forecast to peak in about 40 years’ time, even with the threat to agriculture that climate change poses.

Read more here at The Guardian’s Word of Mouth blog

Word of Mouth: The parable of the slaughtered lamb

12th February 2010, Guardian Online

the slaughtered lamb parable

Lambs. Photo: Alamy

Should children be taught about where meat comes from, or is it better that they come to realise the realities of rearing and slaughter later in life?

Utterly mad and particularly British is this week’s story of a Kent head teacher forced from her job because she slaughtered the school farm’s lamb.

Andrea Charman had thought it a good way of teaching the children about the agricultural economy and the food cycle, and they agreed. But then some of their parents started social network campaigns to rescue the lamb. It took off. The lamb was duly slaughtered, the threats began and now she has quit. The lamb – Marcus – has had his revenge.