Friends of the Earth’s Food Chain Campaign asks the government to “revoluntionise” the way meat and dairy is produced. They are keen to tell us that we don’t need to go vegetarian.
Eliminating animal products from your diet is one of the most effective choices you can take to reduce your impact on the planet, but Friends of the Earth seem determined not to acknowledge that and instead are encouraging people to continue to eat meat. Even the message that we need to reduce consumption is said in a whisper.
We need strong leadership from groups like Friends of the Earth – we’re relying on them to make it clear that real action is needed immediately if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. People need to know that making paltry changes in their behaviour is simply not enough.
There are two issues with simply asking for a reduction in consumption. Firstly, it does not accurately represent the severity of the problem. For example, the new Act on CO2 PSA tells people that driving cars is the single biggest contributor to our personal CO2 emissions and asks people to drive five miles less per week – how can it be such a significant problem if the action to resolve it is so small? Is it even worth bothering? The same applies with animal agriculture.
Secondly, asking people to just reduce their consumption is not likely to lead to meaningful action. A massive percentage of the UK population already call themselves “meat reducers” yet meat and dairy consumption continues to rise. Why is this? Simply put, if people do not have a strong enough mandate to steer clear of certain behaviours or products, then it is all too easy for them to slip into old patterns or habits. At lunch time they will just get a ham sandwich or a tuna salad because they are not off limits and it’s what they’re used to doing. They will still have it in their heads that they “don’t eat much meat” but in truth probably eat meat every day. If, on the other hand, the person decides to take positive action by going vegan, then they have an extremely strong mandate to make planet positive choices at every single meal since animal products will be completely off limits to them.
We’re asking Friends of the Earth to have some balls and go vegan, and to ask their supporters to do the same. To quote a response to the Telegraph blog about our action “if our civilisation is to stand a chance of evolving beyond selfish over-consumption, then we must realise that it’s simply too late and too little to advocate ‘doing our bit’. We must do our all.”