England must reduce meat intake to avoid climate breakdown, says food tsar

Image Credit: Philip Miseldine- FLickr

The only way to have sustainable land use in this country, and avoid ecological breakdown, is to vastly reduce consumption of meat and dairy, according to the UK government’s food tsar.

Henry Dimbleby told the Guardian that although asking the public to eat less meat – supported by a mix of incentives and penalties – would be politically toxic, it was the only way to meet the country’s climate and biodiversity targets.

“It’s an incredibly inefficient use of land to grow crops, feed them to a ruminant or pig or chicken which then over its lifecycle converts them into a very small amount of protein for us to eat,” he said.

Currently, 85% of agricultural land in England is used for pasture for grazing animals such as cows or to grow food which is then fed to livestock. Dimbleby, the Leon restaurant chain co-founder and a respected voice in Conservative circles, believes a 30% meat reduction over 10 years is required for land to be used sustainably in England. Others go much further: Greenpeace, for example, say we must reduce our meat intake by 70%.