Less meat, more veg

Radio 4’s Farming Programme had an interesting feature yesterday morning about

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Harvest Thanksgiving, Newburgh 2015

vegetarianism in Germany  – apparently the government is introducing a controversial ban on meat at government receptions. This is on environmental grounds – it seems that in Germany they take very seriously the costs of producing meat vis-à-vis a vegetarian diet. Indeed, from the programme I gather that this is a hot potato (!) in German politics, with vegetarians identified as crazy left-wingers compared with the conservative cattle-munchers.

Can you imagine such a debate happening in Scotland? For a start, despite decades of awareness of the issues, there is little high-quality or high-profile public debate on the sustainability of meat-farming. It’s an international rather than merely national issue, as previously ‘developing countries’ increase their appetite for the ‘western diet’ over traditional vegetarian habits; hence an increasing global demand for meat.

The meat-versus-veg debate is frequently over-simplified. Scotland has a wealth of high-quality, compassionately-farmed beef, lamb, pork and increasingly, venison – not to mention game birds and the whole of the fishing industry. Apart from the deliciousness of the product, meat’s importance to the economy, and a vast cultural heritage, there are jobs to consider. I’m certainly not in favour of wholesale vegetarianism, imposed or otherwise. But I do go along with the many leading academics, environmentalists, farmers and food writers that we should all be eating less meat; and what meat we do eat should be of high quality.

Much research has linked heavy meat-eating to high incidence of cancer and heart disease. Decades of research findings have found that diets high in vegetables and fruit have a strongly protective effect on our health. Fish also enjoys a favourable profile in health and diet research. I’m certainly not an expert on these areas; but I know that these messages aren’t new. The links I’ve made highlight just a few sources of authority, but there are many more. I reckon it’s time Scots took the evidence to heart. Maybe we should revertPopeye to childhood role models:

I’m Popeye the sailor man – I lives in a caravan – I fights to the finish cos I eats me spinach – I’m Popeye the sailor man!

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4 thoughts on “Less meat, more veg

  1. I like that you promote both a healthy meat-eating way of life, and also a vegetarian-based diet. Like you, I believe that the higher quality of food, whether meat or fruit or veg, truly does have an effect upon your health, both mental and physical. Lovely post and very timely!

    1. Thank you! I’ve just spent a couple of hours with some people at Maggie’s in Dundee looking at nutritional support for people with Cancer, and am well convinced of the huge value of fruit and veg as a major part of the diet … but I doubt I’ll ever walk away from meat completely!

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