Confessions of an organic vegetarian

Meat Free Monday (and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and…)

There is nothing more illogical than an organic vegetarian, but that is what I am. Organic farming relies upon animals to add fertility to the land during the rotation of fields.  It is technically possible to farm organically without animals (so-called stockless systems) but it is more difficult. And if farmers rear organic animals then it is logical that organic consumers need to eat the resultant organic meat.

I opted out of meat-eating during my student days around 30 years ago. My main motive was poverty – my student grant (in the days when it was possible to have one) could buy me nasty cheap meat or OK fruit and veg. Subsequently I discovered that I didn’t really like the taste or texture of meat. Much later I started reading about the cruelty involved in intensive animal production. At no point did I consider the environmental impact of meat eating, but this is something that we now all must do.

It has been estimated that to produce 1kg of animal protein it takes 10 times more land than it takes to produce 1kg of vegetable protein. So it will take ten times more land to feed a carnivore than a vegetarian.

And that’s why we are all going to have to do a lot more than give up meat one day a week (aka Meat Free Mondays, ). Include the fact that ruminants such as cows emit greenhouse gases from their many stomachs and a vegetarian diet looks like the only way forward for the planet. In fact a vegan diet would be optimal, as dairy production carries the same sort of environmental baggage as meat production.

So maybe it will be meat or dairy once a week as a special treat. Which would be the way that most people in this country used to eat. Back to the future!

By Simon Wright

Organic and Fairtrade brand specialist
Simon Wright is the founder of OF+ Consulting. A former technical director at Green & Black’s and Whole Earth he is one of the foremost brand advisers to the natural and organic sector.