Q&A on need to reduce meat consumption with Matthew Shirbman from #NoBeef campaign
Question: I understand our need to drastically reduce our meat intake globally (particularly intensive production and where leads to deforestation, alongside the methane issue). I just genuinely need to know if there are certain scenarios where we do need to support certain sustainable production e.g. beef and lamb raised ethically and organically on UK pastures that are carbon sinks and could not or should not readily be converted to other land use (or if it was could be worse e.g. built on, intensive crop production)?
In a nutshell, regenerative, free-range pasture-fed cattle farming can play an important role in maintaining healthy soil or improving degraded soil.
This is because cow manure is the best manure known, in terms of biological structure, content and even a brilliant NPK ratio for most crops.
However, these methods of farming...
1) require more land than “non-sustainable” methods.
2) actually have a higher net CO2e emissions value, mainly due to 1), because the sustainable grazing land is overwhelmingly prime land for reforesting, especially in the UK
3) whilst justified from the POV of soil maintenance, are rarely used in longterm sustainable rotations with crops - rather these sustained lands are kept purely for the purpose of continued cattle grazing.
The view taken by most academics is that...
1) ruminants need to be drastically reduced
2) ruminants that do remain ought to be farmed with these sustainable methods, in order to maintain / regenerate the soil for crops. That is to say that their presence should be secondary to crops
The methods of beef / lamb farming that we ought to support are methods that are inherently expensive, and our view is that luxury foods don’t belong in school canteens where the aim is to provide cost effective nutrition. So I agree that it’s important to educate the students that if they are to eat beef, then they should look for PFLA etc., but I also fear that this waters down the most important message - that we need to drastically reduce beef and lamb consumption, and that doing so is the single biggest personal step (and thereby a very empowering change) that individuals can make to combat the climate and ecological crises.
Attached docs and more info on regenerative farming methods: http://www.0beef.com/key-points
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