What the experts are saying

Halfway through Veganuary??

Scratching your head on what your meat strategy is this year?

Well, I thought it would be interesting to share an article and a documentary I found informative on meat and plant-based diets and the impact on climate and ourselves.

The first is a BBC iPlayer documentary, ‘Meat; A threat to our planet’.

It gives a great overview on the impact of intensive farming and its impact on the planet and eco-systems.

 And also looks at ways we are tackling the problem through science, tech innovation and alternative (or some might say – ‘the-way-we-used-to-’) farming methods.

The second, is an article from The Guardian’s, ‘Red meat plays vital role in diets, claims expert in fightback against veganism’

Fast facts

The expert; Alice Stanton, professor of cardiovascular pharmacology at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Stanton gave a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference to ministers, farmers and environmentalists.

Here’s a snapshot of some interesting takeaways;

  • Veganism and flexitarianism – led to a drop in sales of red meat last year of about £185m, according to market researchers Nielsen
  • Research for veganuary – which promotes plant-based diets, showed that more than 1.3 million people gave up animal products in January 2019
  • Eating red meat in moderation – twice to four times a week – was protective against heart attacks, strokes and cancer
  • While nutrients in red meat were vital for children in the first three years of life
  • Key nutrients in some fruits, vegetables and grains have dropped by up to 50%
  • Nutrition levels had dropped because farmers were trying to meet a demand for cheap food. For plant-based foods, there’s been drops in vitamins and key electrolytes by up to 50% over the past 50 years because of the genetic selection for large volume and uniformity of shape and appearance.

It’s definitely different now

I grew up on a small sheep farm.                                                          .

I eat meat.

Climate change worries me.

As does how we can individually impact it with the choices we make.

It never used to.

That doesn’t mean, it shouldn’t now.

Yes, that is me! I blame my mother for that ‘haircut’ and outfit.

The next generation

This Christmas showed how the younger generation are taking this very seriously.

My lovely, intelligent Swiss niece and nephew have recently both switched to being vegetarians due to climate change concerns.

They follow Greta Thunberg, read up on what’s happening with climate change and have participated in protests to help make change.

And this Christmas, instead of 12 meat eaters + 1 vegetarian, we had 7 meat eaters and 5 vegetarians.

The family that are meat eaters all buy their meat locally and know the source of it.

And have reduced meat in-take during the week.

So, as a family, everyone has taken actionable steps.

When did it all change?

At this stage, we are not cutting meat from our diets completely.

As I have mentioned in another post – Sustainable farming, climate change and animal welfare – taking the right type of action is important in order to make a good impact.

I still believe the nutrients we gain from meat is very important and is harder to replace on a plant-based diet only.

I also believe we should know where are meat comes from, how it was farmed and how far it travelled.

As a kid, we knew all of this.

Sadly, I think it was large supermarkets that detached consumers from the animal and the farm.

People were buying a packaged product off a shelf, wrapped in plastic.

And cheaply.

Taking informed action

If you joined Veganuary:

  • Do you know where your products are sourced from?
  • Are they locally produced to ensure a short supply chain so the impact on the climate is less?
  • Is it grown in a sustainable way?
  • Are you buying vegan alternatives or buying wholefoods?

These are similar questions meat eaters are asking themselves.

And I think many do.

But is everyone??

Keep the conversation going…

We had many good conversations over Xmas about the climate, food and our impact on the planet.

I learnt a lot from my younger family members who have a great desire to make change.

We discussed some of the studies put out there.

And (some very) one-sided Netflix documentaries that mostly looked at industrialised farming the biggest threat – but often failed to explain places like the UK don’t use this style of farming.

But it’s important to keep the conversation going.


Google ‘Feedyards’.

In the BBC documentary, mentioned, they visit a factory farm in the USA, which is the size of 250 football pitches and has a million cows per year in one feedyard.

What’s terrifying2/3’s of the worlds meat is farmed this way.

No wonder rearing cattle (at this level) is impacting the environment in such a way.

It’s definitely worth watching; Meat: a threat to our planet?

Back to the future

So, why can’t we go back to smaller farms where sustainable farming can take place?

Yes, it’s more expensive (sadly, American farmers and government take pride in being able to produce cheap meat for the masses)

But wouldn’t this make meat more of a treat than something we think we should have on a daily basis?

Rather than a packaged product found on a shelf in the supermarket.

Understanding where your meat comes from

Having lived on a small sheep farm and more recently reared a pig.

I feel more connected to the meat we have.

And I can tell you, taking the pigs to the abattoir was pretty hard.

Even though I knew we had given it a good life.

(But honestly, it took a few days before I could really cook our pork).

But we have used all of it; nose to tail.

And I’m proud of that.

We use it for special occasions – our Xmas ham, Sunday roasts with neighbours.

So it’s very special.

Understanding where your vegetables comes from

Is just as important as the argument for meat.

We must make sure we understand the impact of everything we do that impacts the climate, including having an all plant-based diet.

And, in my opinion, it still all comes down to being balanced.

And perhaps once upon a time, we were a bit guilty of having too much meat during the week.

But we’ve made changes.

The choice is yours

Like I mentioned, we still eat meat.

We still see the nutritional value as a major benefit.

And we also really enjoy cooking and sharing meals with friends and neighbours with it.

But we make sure we source it properly.

Which is a key step to really enjoying your food, gaining the best flavours… and helping with the environment.

The choice is yours.

I’d love to hear any of your thoughts on this complex issue. Drop me a line or leave a comment.