Last Monday I watched a program on BBC1: “Meat: a threat to our planet?” It interested me because my millennial grandchildren are somewhat critical of my positive approach to meat. Indeed, at table I am often the only person eating it.
So I thought this program would give me a broader picture. I might even demonstrate my, temporary, breadth of knowledge. And I would impress the young.
Liz Bonnin, who leads the program, presented herself as someone who had a general belief in the dangers of climate warming, but who wanted to nail down the facts.
She started in Texas – where she found the huge industry required to satisfy the American determination to eat meat: it was gross and almost deliberately wasteful. The outcome was a huge contribution to climate change. The work being currently done to provide non-meat food but which tastes like meat would not have impressed them. The global livestock industry around the world is the source responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the running of all the world’s transport combined. It’s polluting air, land, and water.
Of course although we may argue about the details and the consequences of different factors which lead towards climate change (think of 50,000 Texan cows belching out methane or huge quantities of polluting manure from pig farms), and then add to that the great number of factors which contribute to the threat to many aspects of our lives.
But then, just as I pause writing this post and glance at the Daily Telegraph (28 November), I notice a story headed “Meat free world would devastate the environment, say scientists” Among other points, it refers to the needs of children who apparently require the benefits of meat for their cognitive and physical development. So nothing, of course, is simple.
In fact, I have reduced my meat eating in recent months – but it is still part of my diet. I can of course sit pretty – after all I will have snuffed it long before the worst has arrived. But last week I had a visit from a three years old great granddaughter. Apart from the fact that her beauty makes my eyes water, she showed a surprising temperament: she thought, she decided, and then she went into action. She is the future – but what sort of future will we leave her?