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Environment & ethics   |   Eating & drinking

Ben’s News: How much meat?

There is only one general Riverford meat topic right now – how much meat should we be eating? It’s a tough question for a butcher and one that, not surprisingly, most aren’t prepared to face up to.

Easter’s come and gone and I’d be interested to know whether anyone has scaled back on the meat element of their festive fare in response to the How Much Meat? campaign. With Professor Tim Lang suggesting a daily allowance of 70g, that doesn’t give a lot of leeway for celebratory meals. So what’s the answer? You’re certainly not going to fi nd it in the papers or cookbooks. A quick dip into The Guardian and Observer last weekend gives full bags of tricks for using pork mince, cooking chorizo, slow cooking pork ribs and breast of lamb. The plus side is that there was no beef on the menu and the suggested cuts and sausages are made from lesser used cuts but, on the down side, work your way through that lot and you’ll be well on your way through your monthly rations.

Being naturally contrary, the debate sometimes brings out the reactionary in me; I was on the verge of going online and booking tickets for Grillstock. “Music festivals are good and all, but have you ever been listening to a band and thought, ‘wow… I wish I was eating a big pile of meat.’ That’s where Grillstock comes in, a magical place where hotdog eating contests……..” says the website, and there lies the problem.

The mammon that is the culture of meat is so deeply embedded, even in the quasi alternative of music festivals, that changing it is going to be like moving mountains. Karl Marx would probably have had a thing or two to say about it. He probably did.

So what’s the answer? Thinking back to the early days of the climate change debate, I don’t remember it being like this. There were a few ‘holier than thou’ types on bicycles but, for the most part, we were all wrong together and now, for the most part, we’re all learning together. The meat question is just one issue. In the present context the methane figures are alarming but I stand by what I’ve said that around 25% of total GHG emissions isn’t a bad price for feeding the world. That’s it from me, but the debate continues on our website: