Richard Vernon says population reduction would do more for the planet than a change of diet, Stuart Roberts and John Davies extol the benefits of British farming, Dr. Michael Antoniou calls for balanced scientific information and Paul Faupel on meeting his dietary needs with chocolate-enrobed brazil nuts.
Damian Carrington gives us a fine review of the “planetary health diet” in his article (New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say, scientists, theguardian.com, 16 January). It’s clear that this diet offers both better health than the current norm of a high-meat diet and a more environmental food production system with its emphasis on plant rather than animal production. However, I doubt the validity of some claims in the report.
Moreover, population reduction should be easier to effect that the proposed change of diet, the latter clearly being, as the report states, a daunting task. “Humanity has never aimed to change the global food system on the scale envisioned. Achieving this goal will require the rapid adoption of numerous changes and unprecedented global collaboration and commitment.” Conversely, when women have access to education and contraception, they will not choose to have more children than they can support. Population decline follows. The provision of education for girls and women, and of contraception, needs an only expansion of existing well-known programmes.
We do not yet understand the implications of a heavily plant-based diet like the report recommends on either our health or the environment. There is a very real possibility it could see us relying on imported produce, produced to lower standards than our own and with increased transport emissions.
In Britain, we have extensive grasslands, which act as carbon stores helping to mitigate climate change. The most effective and sustainable way to use this land is to graze livestock, which will turn inedible grass into high-quality, grass-fed, nutrient-rich beef, lamb and dairy, all reared in an extensive system.
Read more at The Guardian