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The Great ‘Meat: a Thing of the Past by 2100?’ Debate

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“THIS HOUSE BELIEVES Eating Meat Will Be a Thing of the Past by 2100” was a topic debated at this year’s Oxford Farming Conference. The UK is undeniably a successful producer of world-class meat, but veganism – which also does not permit the consumption of milk and eggs – is up by 360% in the last 10 years, and although a show of hands in the hall showed that just 2% of the audience were smokers, it was pointed out that 82 years ago – the number of years between now and 2100 – the percentage would probably have been 98%. Campaigner and vegan, George Monbiot, argued that a change from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet would probably be the quickest solution to the climate change challenge, and Philip Lymbery of Compassion in World Farming pointed out that when sheep and cattle were first domesticated there were just one million people on the planet; there are now nine billion! Sadly, according to the reports – I confess I was not actually present – much of the case for continued meat eating verged on the sentimental and nostalgic, although good humour was present in comments such as the one suggesting sheep would be needed to feed the wolves and lynx included in George Monbiot’s rewilding plans. Significantly, just 5% of the audience initially thought that meat could be a thing of the past by 2100, but at the end of the debate the vote was 276 disagreeing with the motion, and 120 agreeing – a rise in numbers of about 100. I accept the idea that we should probably eat less meat, but no one has yet satisfactorily explained who will care for all our livestock animals if they have no further commercial value – look what almost happened to the Gloucestershire Old Spot pig when it no longer had a market. Will farmers keep herds of cattle, sheep and pigs simply as custodians of the countryside, paid for by subsidies – a little like a theme park – or would we face a gradual cull and the prospect of few people ever again seeing sheep or cattle on our fields?

Visit to see the entire debate.

Posted in: Home Farmer Blog

About the Author:

Paul Melnyczuk is editor of Home Farmer, and together with Ruth Tott is the founder of the company. His Ukrainian father and Austrian mother came over in the 1950s, and he was raised near Accrington (of Stanley fame) in Lancashire. With a degree in European Literature and a year spent living in Sweden, and a further 2 years in the Sudan, his background is rich and varied.

1 Comment on "The Great ‘Meat: a Thing of the Past by 2100?’ Debate"

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  1. Sue Sewell says:

    The only comment I would make is when I go to Crete I don’t see pigs or cattle in the fields, they are all farmed intensively indoors and the locals do not eat much meat. So I think we would very soon get used to not seeing the animals in the fields. I would hate it as a dedicated carnivore and animal lover.

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