My exasperation with the anti-meat lobby has come to the boil. The final straw was Friends of the Earth’s new Meat Free May campaign.
The longstanding Meat Free Monday embraced by vegan groups was inept enough: if you are trying to convince heavy meat consumers to cut consumption, this is a stupid day to choose, since that’s when you’d traditionally eat the remains of the Sunday roast. As for Meat Free May, I love alliteration, but it flags up a total lack of understanding about animal husbandry. What are all our livestock meant to do in May? Stop growing?
“These campaigns are just a skip away from ‘meat is murder’ messages”
Generic meat reduction campaigns are just a skip away from crude ‘meat is murder’ messages. They do not ask how much people actually eat, branding us all as meat-loading Americans who breakfast on burgers. Neither do they ask what type of meat we eat. One of the many reasons I appreciate Philip Lymbery of Compassion’s Farmageddon analysis is that it draws the crucial distinction between industrial-scale, intensive meat production and small-scale extensive farming - attacking the former, and presenting the latter as a viable alternative.
Who is standing up for meat these days? Red meat was damned by the dietetic establishment for decades because it contains satfat. Now that myth is melting away, there’s still no organised defence of its easily absorbed iron, spectrum of B vitamins and amino acid-packed protein. So we are breeding generations of anaemic young women who genuinely believe a plate of pasta anointed with a factory-made, cook-in sauce is healthier than natural foods like beef, lamb, and venison.
When the ‘dangers’ of eating meat hit the headlines, no organised body is geared up to defending it in a reasoned, informed way against the shaky epidemiological evidence that appears to incriminate it. It falls to independent nutritionists to expose the flaws, notably, the repeated failure to distinguish between processed meat full of chemical additives and unprocessed meat.
The anti-meat lobby has become fixated on ‘M’ and urgently needs to move on now to ‘F’. How about Factory Farmed-Free Friday or February?
Joanna Blythman is a journalist and author of What to Eat