We were encouraged to see that the Financial Times had published some letters from fellow PFLA members raising questions about their article from December 28th entitled “Have we reached peak meat?”.
John Meadley’s can be read on this link: Pasture and ruminants will heal the soil
David Wilson’s is copied below:
We must eat less meat but it doesn’t follow that we need lab-grown proteins
Your Big Read on meat eating (“Have we reached peak meat?”, December 28) raises interesting questions, but makes the mistake of treating animal agriculture as a homogeneous global “meat industry”. Even to consider meat under the broad headings of beef, pork and poultry glosses over an enormous variety of farming practices, environmental effects and social structures both between and within countries.
For example, the average environmental effect of a pound of beef from a Welsh hill farm — on rough land that has been farmed for centuries — is far less than that of a pound of Brazilian beef for which virgin rainforest was slashed and burnt. It is common, especially in America, to fatten cattle quickly by stuffing them with grain on gigantic feedlots: a practice that is cruel to the animals, increases methane emissions, takes up good arable land for growing the grain instead of human food, and produces much less nutritious beef.
The old way of raising them entirely on grass, by contrast, produces food from marginal land where no crops can be grown; maintains carbon-sequestering permanent pastures, home to a rich mixture of species; gives the cattle a good life; and results in a healthier steak. This kind of farming cannot, of course, be done on so large a scale, and is frequently ignored (with its associated rural communities and ways of life) by governments more comfortable talking to city-dwelling agribusiness and supermarket executives.
That we have to eat much less meat than the current western average is plain as day. But it does not follow that we need “alternative proteins” in the form of lab-cultured fake meat sold by Silicon Valley start-ups (there are already perfectly good alternative proteins called pulses, which do not take millions in venture capital to grow). Moderate amounts of pasture-fed meat do not perhaps suit the zeal of the true-believing vegan or technologist, yet have an important place both in healthy diets and in sound environmental management.
David A McM Wilson
Aberedw, Powys, UK