Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Veganism could be bad for the environment, scientists warn
29 November 2019, 05:52
The growth of veganism will not help fix climate issues linked to the farming sector and could even harm the environment, experts have warned.
Scientists from Scotland's Rural College and Edinburgh University said farmers were increasingly feeling demonised by the unsupported ‘meat is evil’ claims being promoted by environmental campaigners.
Going meat-free could mean a loss of essential biodiversity which is needed to sustain a healthy ecosystem, with experts in food security warning natural resources would be wasted if the planet went vegan.
Professor Geoff Simm, the Director of Global Academy Agriculture and Food Security at the University of Edinburgh, said: “I think [livestock farmers] do feel they are being demonised.
“Often the argument is made that going vegan would minimise land use, and the modelling studies that have been done demonstrate that that’s not the case.
“We feel that while livestock production has a range of economic, social and environmental costs and benefits, the costs have perhaps been receiving far more attention recently than some of the benefits.
“Meat has massive social benefits. It’s an important source of dietary protein, energy, highly bioavailable micronutrients, even small amounts of animal-sourced food have a really important effect on the development of children, in the developing world on their cognitive and physical development and they are really important.”
Professor Simm said: “Animals are eating by-products and grazing grassland, so if everyone went vegan those natural resources would essentially be wasted.”
Speaking at a specialist panel in London, Mike Coffey, from Scotland’s Rural College, said the British environment would be devastated if everybody went vegan. “Animals bred for food help boost biodiversity,” he said.
Prof Mike Coffey, from Scotland’s Rural College, added: “It’s completely unnecessary to go vegan.
“If everybody went vegan it would be devastating for the UK environment. Animals bred for food help boost biodiversity.”
Professor Andrea Wilson, of Edinburgh University, said more research was needed into the impact of veganism.
She added: “We know a lot about the livestock sector because people have looked at it. We actually know very little about the vegan sector.
“The danger is we demonise one and jump too quickly to the other.”