Friends of the Earth: Healthy Planet Eating

by L Matthews on October 20, 2010

Friends of the Earth: Healthy Planet Eating

The UK-based campaign group and charity Friends of the Earth released a report yesterday detailing how their ‘Fair Less Meat’ strategy can save lives, money, and the planet. They neglect, unfortunately to mention the number of non-human lives it will save, but it’s a step in the right direction at least.

This report is very interesting, and well worth reading, if a little dry at times. Stuffed full of research, population studies, nutritional information, and gentle myth-busting, it walks the fine line between espousing the merits of vegetarianism and sanctioning meat consumption. In the end they seem to fall on the side of meat consumption, although significantly less dead animal flesh than the average person in the West currently consumes. This is a real shame, but hardly surprising as so many charities, environmental and otherwise (think PETA), are made up of many vegetarians and vegans and yet continue to go about their business subtly changing things and hoping that the general population doesn’t kick up too much of a fuss. It’s social engineering by stealth. Perhaps, in the end, it’s more effective than simply stating the facts, constructing a logical argument including issues of health, animal ethics, the environment, and human ethics (i.e. the impact of meat consumption on ‘less developed’ countries, and on reinforcing the socioeconomic standards currently tolerated), and then hoping people can transcend their culturally-enforced norms to change their habits in a significant fashion.

At least now the topic is under discussion by some fairly high-level policy-makers, in the UK and US governments, and across Europe and the rest of the world too. The Friends of the Earth Healthy Planet Eating report highlights some incidences of attempts at policy change that have previously failed, including the shocking case of a plan forged in 2009 to reduce the amount or meat served in UK hospitals to ‘healthier and more sustainable levels’. This was part of an NHS carbon reduction strategy and advocated a ‘reduction’ of meat, using locally sourced ‘quality’ meat (NHS SDU, 2009).

The media in the UK got hold of the story and spun it as a removal and complete ban on meat in hospitals, unsurprisingly causing an uproar from angry, carnivorous patients and potential patients (Martin, 2009, Jowit, 2009, Clarke, 2009). Guess what? The plan was scrapped. No real attempt at explaining the strategy or defending it. Just abandonment of the principle to pander to the masses made ignorant and angry by the red-tops.

Pumpkin Seeds (Raw) - 2/27.5 Lb Pumpkin Seeds (Raw): GR

Yes, it was the Daily Mail, big surprise, who had an attention-grabbing headline, and then a rather more subdued polemic in the actual story. A bigger suprise though was the Guardian getting things confused, and a rather misguided ‘nutritionist’ (previously an NHS dietitian), who waxed lyrical about the necessity of dairy for zinc, and meat for protein and how vegan meals don’t provide these things in adequate amounts. I beg to differ Jane Clarke, ever heard of pumpkin seeds, beans and pulses, rice even; you can see why she ended up at the Daily Mail.

Another example of this media misinterpretation for profit is the case of climate change expert Lord Stern, who last year (2009) observed that a meat-eating diet had a higher environmental impact than a vegetarian diet (as usual, no mention of veganism, that’s way to weird, clearly).

His comments in an article in the Times newspaper were turned into ‘people will need to turn vegetarian if the world is to conquer climate change’ (Pagnamenta, 2009). Let’s not even query the use of the word ‘conquer’ there… just look at how the newspapers time and again extrapolate the reports, observations, and findings of experts in their field to the point where the average person is bound to ridicule rather than engage.

It becomes clearer why social-change through stealth is considered necessary by major organisations such as Friends of the Earth and PETA.

With meat and dairy production responsible for a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions and predicted to double by 2050, Friends of the Earth argue in this report that it is unfathomable that the target of an 80% reduction in climate changing gases can be achieved unless dietary habits change (Stern, 2006).

this discussion is continued here


Pagnamenta R, Climate chief Lord Stern: give up meat to save the
planet, The Times, October 27, 2009.

NHS Sustainable Development Unit, Saving Carbon, Improving
Health, NHS, 2009.

Martin, Meat to be removed from hospital menus as NHS tells
patients to ring GPs to cut carbon emissions, Daily Mail, January 27,

Jowit, Hospitals will take meat off menus in bid to cut carbon,
Guardian, January 26, 2009;

Clarke, Ban meat from hospital meals?
That’s just tripe!, Daily Mail, February 3, 2009.

NHS Sustainable Development Unit, Saving Carbon, Improving
Health, NHS, 2009.

Stern N, Stern Review on The Economics of Climate Change, HM
Treasury, 2006. Home Page

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Leave a Comment

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

shakeology November 9, 2010 at 15:21

If you are consuming high amounts of protein be sure to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.

robot pour piscine November 12, 2010 at 09:30

Thanks for sharing, top tips!!

Ron Tedwater November 12, 2010 at 23:44

Great work keep it coming

Dj Zee November 19, 2010 at 09:01

This post’s great, killer argument. I KEEP TELLING my nbon-veggie environemntal freinds about this and they jsut won’t lsiten and go eat hamburgers. grrrr.r.r. will send them a link and hope they payattention to someone else who knwos their stuff.


Omega Mosimann November 24, 2010 at 13:19

It seems you are fairly well informed about this. Thanks.

Page November 27, 2010 at 04:58

Hey, I searched for reaction to this and there’s not much, which I thought a little odd. Thanks for covering it. I’ve not always like FoE as they take a while to get anything done and seem a litel too softly softly for me. DIrect action! More my style. I’m a flexitarian, so I only eat meat when I’ve liberated it from a supermarket bin or similar. I don’t do dairy because of allergies, but your other post on being addicted to cheese is interesting, never heardof that before.

Am glad FoE published this, and there are some interesting bits, as you included here, on media reaction like the hospital plan. Such stupidity to scrap it for the sake of some media attacks. You’re right they should just grow aset and explain the reasons, until they’re blue in face if they ahve to!

Maybe the NHS will bring it back as a cost-cuttign tool now that the whole country’s gone to hell. The UK is a bit crap currently. Now i’m depressing myself. Perhaps I should eat some gluten for the morphine?!

Looking fwd to reading mroe from you.

Rolando Beeck December 2, 2010 at 13:36

Thank you for posting good info.

diet plan December 8, 2010 at 17:12

Can I quote some words from this post?

admin December 12, 2010 at 13:27


thanks for the interest. If it’s a genuine request then I would be happy to let you quote some of the material as long as a backlink is provided to the post and site.

Many thanks,

Milan Linz February 4, 2011 at 19:03

This blog is bookmarked! I really love the stuff you have put here.

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