Tuesday, 13 March 2012

One person's meat

Recent studies at Harvard School of Public Health have reignited the arguments about eating red meat. Of course, there are serious implications associated with eating a lot of meat, and they aren't all about the health of the individual. Environmentalists say it's bad for the planet and groups concerned about animal welfare would like us all to stick to a vegetarian or vegan diet. However, farmers and others involved in the livestock industry are hitting back and challenging the validity of the research. Eblex, the organisation that promotes English beef and lamb, argues that red meat provides essential nutrients as part of a healthy, balanced diet. I wonder what they think about producing meat artificially. Writing a short article for last week's Farmers' Weekly got me thinking about the implications of this. Artificial meat might appeal to those vegetarians who have forgotten what real meat tastes like. The sceptical foodie in me can't quite believe it would taste like "proper" meat. I suspect it would be on a par with turkey twizzlers and pink, pasty-tasting sausage rolls. There are also implications for our landscapes. We know from Relu research that there could be serious consequences, particularly for the uplands, if we managed to persuade everyone to make radical changes to their diet. Personally, I enjoy meat, but I don't eat it every day. I prefer to enjoy it a couple of times a week, and stick to meat raised to high welfare standards. For me, that feels like a more useful step on the road to sustainable living, and maybe it is healthier too.

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