Holy cow: The climate cost of the red meat revealed in 'The Big British Beef Battle'
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Going vegan is apparently the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet.
According to research, meat and dairy diets result in 75% less climate-heating emissions, water pollution and land use than those in which animal products are consumed.
And not only would this result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions, it would also free up wild land lost to agriculture, one of the primary causes for mass wildlife extinction.
So most of us know the impact of our meat and dairy consumption, but we live in a free world (to some extent), so what if we want to reduce our impact on the planet without actually giving up meat?
Less familiar than the pro-vegan rhetoric is the message that by choosing chicken instead of beef, you could still massively reduce your footprint.
The climate cost of the red meat is the highest of any food stuff – and in the UK it’s around five times as much as white meat.
In this new documentary, part of Channel 4’s Climate Emergency season, Ade Adepitan looks at the science, and meets those campaigning to “make beef the new smoking”, who argue the meat should be taken off the menu in government institutions, company canteens, restaurants and homes.
While plant-based consumption is seen as the gold standard for the climate, presenter, journalist and Paralympic basketball player Ade, explores whether shifting from beef to chicken (or Quorn) would still make a huge impact towards lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
“I’m passionate about climate change and about all of us being properly informed so we can make responsible and impactful decisions which will benefit all of us and our planet,” Ade, who was seen earlier this year in BBC’s natural world series Our Changing Planet, says.
“In this documentary we’ll be looking at the actual data and asking some really challenging questions about whether beef should now be off limits.”
The documentary is being made by production company Zandland, whose Executive Producers Ben Zand and Josh Reynolds add: “We don’t think there’s anyone better to take on such a radical and impactful campaign than Ade.
“Asking a nation to give up one of its most beloved foods won’t be easy, but the data of its impact on the environment is eye-opening.”
Finally, Channel 4 commissioners Tim Hancock and Jonah Weston add: “There’s nothing more British than roast beef, but Ade’s investigation has the potential to uncover evidence that changes the nation’s opinion towards our most beloved meat.”
Like all fierce debates, there are two sides to the story.
As well as getting up to all sorts of stunts to get the public to turn their back on beef, Ade also meets farmers and other specialists in the red meat and dairy industry, who insist that British meat can be enjoyed sustainably.
It sounds like a decent idea in theory – but is it already too late for compromise?