BY BRIAN MOORE
ACCORDING to the EAT-Lancet report, which was published recently, beef and dairy farmers need to reduce their production by almost 80% in order to seriously combat climate change.
The report, compiled by 30 scientists from across the globe, from the EAT-Lancet Commission for Food, Planet and Health states that meat consumption in western countries including Ireland may have to drop by 90% to avert a climate catastrophe and reverse the current obesity epidemic.
The scientists The Lancet Commission are calling for people to reduce their intake of all meats, beef, pork, chicken and fish, and increase their daily portions of nuts, grains, fruit, soya and beans.
Indeed, the report even goes so far as to maintain that just 50 grams a day of starchy vegetables, a quarter of a medium potato, should be consumed.
As for beef, just 7g a day or one average hamburger a week should be on the menu. While a small breast of chicken a week is more than enough. When it comes to fish one small fillet per week is recommended and one glass of milk a day, less if you enjoy cheese, yogurt or butter, is enough.The report states that an increase in our daily intake of vegetables, bean, grains and fruits are not only recommended but essential if we are to combat the production of agricultural methane gasses and thus reverse the effects of climate change. A finding that one West Cork letter writer to The Irish Times disputed while referencing the effects of a vegan diet and the production of human methane gas!
The Lancet report has, unsurprisingly, been a major topic of heated conversation among West Cork farmers with most questioning the organisations behind the commissioning of the report.
Beef farmer, Tommy Moyles, told The Southern Star that he was not overly concerned with the report.
‘We have to remember that we have a climate that is suitable for a certain type of agriculture. And while every industry has to react to their customers, you have to ask who is behind this report? As for the Irish beef industry we need to be focused on quality over quantity, this is the only way forward for beef production in Ireland.’
West Cork’s IFA chairman and dairy farmer, Cornie Buckley said that people should not just dismiss milk and meat from their diets.
‘Meat is a very important protein,’ Mr Buckley said. ‘And, along with milk, which is the best wholefood you can get, is extremely beneficial. The alternatives as far as I am concerned just do not add up.’
Dermot Kelleher, the Munster vice-president of the ICSA, dismissed the Lancet report as ‘dishonest and misleading.’
He said: ‘This is the same old story again – Meat is Murder, etc – people need to be aware of the organisations and corporations that are behind this Lancet report. I definitely wouldn’t class this report as honest at all and, if God, wanted us to be vegetarian he wouldn’t have given us canine teeth.’
Dr Steve Collins, who farms Dexter cattle near Bantry, told The Southern Star that it is ‘important to understand that the importance or risks associated with meat and dairy in diets also varies with age.
‘Dairy in particular is extremely good for rapidly growing young children and I do not believe that massive reductions in dairy consumption in this age group is warranted even in the developed world,’ Dr Collins said.
‘On the agricultural side, I think that the reduction of meat consumption in the developed world should be seen as an opportunity for Ireland rather than just a threat. In my opinion, meat is way underpriced and this encourages the feeding of massive amounts of soya and grains and the production of poor-quality meat.
‘Ireland is blessed with superb pasture and can produce some of the best meat in the world. If meat becomes a luxury, then Ireland’s top-end producers might finally start to get a realistic price for their products.’