Meat may be murder but lettuce is suicide

LP Columnist Barry Freeman
LP Columnist Barry Freeman
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Carnivores everywhere have been celebrating this week – well this one has, at least – after it emerged we might just be the saviours of the entire human race.

Maybe not saviours, as such, but it seems we might do less harm to the environment than some vegetarians, according to research from the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

Boffins at CMU this week published figures suggesting a diet rich in fruit and veg could actually be more harmful to the planet than the consumption of certain meats.

The findings have caused quite a hoo-ha, as for decades the official line has been quite the reverse.

Meat – thanks to the huge amount of grass, grain and sundry feeds AND industrial quantities of methane-rich dung and flatulence – has long been regarded as Environmental Enemy Number 1, and flesh-fans have endured hassle from all quarters in the name of cutting consumption. Unjustly, it now emerges. Once you take cows out of the equation. And who can afford beef these days? Two quid for a tin of corned dog? Insanity.

The study analysed foods across a wider range of environmental impacts than previous research, including, for example, energy and emission costs not only of production but of storage and preparation too. The CMU brainboxes found eating only the recommended “healthier” foods prescribed in advice from the US Department of Agriculture would increase a person’s impact on the environment across the board, but particularly in terms of energy and water use.

Prof Paul Fischbeck, of CMU, said: “Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Aubergine, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.”

Prof Fischbeck added if people gave up meat altogether and cut their calorie intake to USDA-recommended levels their environmental impact would increase across energy use (38 per cent), water (10 per cent) and emissions (six per cent).

Headlining the study was the beautiful revelation eating lettuce is up to three times worse in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon. So please. Do your bit. Take the LT out of BLT and just have B. If you catch a friend or loved one eating an apple swap it for KFC. And next time you fancy an aubergine close your eyes, think of England, and fry a sausage.