Ray Monk at The New Statesman:
The evils of intensive animal agriculture have been vividly detailed in recent years by Philip Lymbery, the chief executive of Compassion in World Farming, in his books Farmageddonand Dead Zone. But Lymbery does not go far enough. He does not suggest everyone becomes vegan. He believes that the solution is a return to the traditional mixed farms of old, in which fields were rotated between cereals and grass, and animals were allowed to graze.
Unfortunately for Lymbery, there is compelling evidence that this is not the case. This year, a major report on precisely this question was published by the Food Climate Research Network at Oxford. Its lead author, Dr Tara Garnett, summarised its findings: “Grazing livestock are net contributors to the climate problem, as are all livestock… If high-consuming individuals and countries want to do something positive for the climate, maintaining their current consumption levels but simply switching to grass-fed beef is not a solution. Eating less meat, of all types, is.” If you eat pork, poultry or eggs, then you are contributing to colossal reductions in biodiversity; if you eat beef or cheese or drink milk, you are contributing to global warming. And if you think eating fish is the way forward, you should read Charles Clover’s book The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat. The current demand for animal products is simply not sustainable and enormous harm is being done in the attempt to meet it. We have to change.
There is, however, some good news. An Oxford study published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences modelled the effects on our health globally between now and 2050 of four different diets: meat-heavy, meat-light, vegetarian and vegan. It concluded that if we ate less meat, five million deaths a year could be avoided by 2050; if we went vegetarian, the figure would be seven million; and a shift to veganism would save eight million lives a year.