Industry takes aim at documentary proposing vegan fix to earth’s ills

Industry takes aim at documentary proposing vegan fix to earth’s ills
George Monbiot (credit: Channel 4)

A documentary purporting that switching to a vegan diet to mitigate climate change and provide healthy nutrition to a growing population has been derided by industry.

Apocalypse Cow, which aired on Channel 4 this week, saw environmental campaigner and author George Monbiot propose ending agriculture as we know it.

Instead he presented a future in which vast tracts of land were turned over to forestry and depending on emerging technologies – such as creating protein from bacteria and producing lab-grown ‘meat’ from stem cells to produce food.

However, the programme has been widely criticised by many in the meat, dairy and agricultural industry. According to Gwyn Howells, Chief Executive of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), switching to lab-produced artificial foods “is not the answer”.

“George Monbiot’s proposal is unlikely to be an effective response to climate change and the challenge of feeding a growing world population. It takes aim at the wrong target, namely agriculture, which produces fewer emissions than transport, industry and energy generation,” he said.

“Wholesale re-forestation of productive agricultural land is questionable according to international studies such as the IPCC Climate Change and Land report, which warn that such a response risks global food security, and urges governments to take advantage of the potential of grassland to sequester carbon as reforestation could take decades to produce net benefits.

“Sustainable forms of agriculture offer more immediate and realistic solutions to mitigating climate change. Wales, with its overwhelmingly non-intensive, grass-fed beef and sheep sector, is ready to lead the way in responsible and sustainable farming.”