FARMING MATTERS: Balanced diet is the best option

editorial image

Few can have failed to note the increasing number of vegans and vegetarians these days, many of whom voice their opinions very vocally on social media.

Their views are interesting and valid, although I have to admit to an irritation with people who claim to be vegetarian while adding the codicil “but I do eat fish and/or chicken”. Do these people actually understand what the word vegetarian means? Would it not be more correct to simply say they don’t eat red meat.

I can’t imagine ever wanting to be either vegan or vegetarian myself, I love dairy produce and meat too much, but I don’t eat huge amounts of meat and I do eat loads of vegetables.

This started in childhood as my mother couldn’t afford huge expensive joints of meat, so our Sunday lunch tended to be meat and six veg as opposed to meat and two veg; a hot pot had one tin of corned beef in it rather than loads of stewing meat; and our fishcakes were potato heavy with the addition of one tin of tuna fish.

When I married a beef farmer and he started retailing our own beef he wanted us to eat it almost every day. Something I refused to do, for health reasons as well as personal taste.

Meat is great and I do love it, but too much is clearly not good for us, and we need a balanced diet to include all the wonderful variety of food our farmers diligently produce for us.

A study published earlier this year in Science magazine suggested that avoiding meat and dairy products would be the single biggest way to reduce our environmental impact on the planet.

The analysis suggested that meat and dairy uses the vast majority of farmed land across the world- 83 per cent - and produces 60 per cent of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The research suggested that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland could be reduced by more than 75 per cent and still feed the world.

The professor who led the research said there was a large variability in environmental impact from different farms and methods used across the world.

But labelling that revealed the impact of products could help consumers to choose the least damaging options.