Let's Eat Balanced 2024 ahdb meat

Source: AHDB

AHDB’s Let’s Eat Balanced campaign is proving successful but, please, ‘let’s be balanced’ in the commentary and reporting that follows.

Last week’s article gave a voice to an unbalanced and unchallenged opinion piece. Author Liam Lysaght, a campaigner for diets and climate change at Feedback Global, argued our campaign promoted increased consumption of meat and dairy.

As an evidence-based, independent, non-departmental public body that is non-commercial, supporting approximately 100,000 levy payers across the food and farming supply chain, we feel it is only right to clarify the facts.

Let’s Eat Balanced is designed to highlight the nutritional, health, and sustainability benefits of British red meat and dairy as an integral part of a well-balanced, healthy diet. Our approach aligns with the UK government’s dietary guidelines, outlined in the Eatwell Guide, which recommends people who eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat per day should cut down to 70g per day. It is worth noting the average intake of red and processed meat in UK adults is, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, 56g per day.

Many organisations are now endorsing moving towards plant-based diets with limited amounts of animal-sourced foods, especially meat and dairy. But this is often based on an oversimplified narrative that the UK eats too much red meat – some people do, but many don’t – and it is primarily rooted in environmental concerns. It is essential to differentiate between environmental challenges and the nutritional significance of animal-sourced foods.

Agriculture has a critical role to play in achieving net zero emissions, unique in its ability to emit but also remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Agricultural systems sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the soil. Farmers also deliver CO2 replacements by producing renewable energy through wind, solar and anaerobic digestion, contributing to improved waste management.

Farmers utilise 660,000 tonnes of food processing co-products as animal feed, also contributing to waste management. However, at present these waste management practices are not always reflected in carbon footprinting data, and don’t appear against agriculture in the Greenhouse Gas National Inventory. Emerging evidence and analysis suggests some livestock systems are already near or at net zero.

While acknowledging the need for sustainable practices, it is crucial to highlight that responsible sustainable farming practices can coexist with red meat consumption, contributing to a balanced and healthy diet.

Mr Lysaght also argues a nutritional argument for red meat consumption “flies directly in the face of science”, quoting one single academic. However, nutritionists widely accept lean red meat provides essential nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins.

Let’s Eat Balanced aims to inform consumers on the positive aspects of incorporating red meat responsibly into their diets, and we are confident our campaign meets the required advertising standards.

It’s a shame pressure groups continue to pedal misleading information and get attention for it, when we would much prefer the opportunity to engage in a balanced debate.


Have your say

The Grocer wants to hear from you about this article and the topics raised in it. If you would like to submit your opinion to be considered for publication in our letters section, get in touch at youropinion@thegrocer.co.uk