Paul McCartney’s Meatless Mondays

Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and his various family members like to bore the pants off us by banging on about vegetarianism.  It all starts with a vague touchy-feely attitude to animals, and the idea that perhaps we should all do better on lentils and nut cutlets.  So of course it was a gift to McCartneydom when the green movement offered a new justification for Paul’s anti-meatism.  Good Heavens!  Cows produce greenhouse gases!  From both ends!  Just stop them eating and breathing, and we can solve the problem of climate change.  Of course no one tells us about the carbon dioxide emissions involved in growing, fertilising and transporting nuts, lentils and cereals (never mind in cooking them), which might turn out to be much the same.  Certainly the connection between beans and emissions is too commonplace to ignore.
An FAO report claimed that livestock were responsible for 18% of UK emissions — that’s more than transport — but the report appears to cover the whole supply chain, not just the livestock.  A case of blaming the cows for the lorries and refrigerators too.  Now a new report by the NFU puts the true figure at just 7% of greenhouse gases, and a mere 1% of CO2 emissions.  And I have it on good authority (I’m still trying to get the copy letter) that Hilary Benn at DEFRA estimates the figure at 3%.
Bovine belches and farming flatulence make great stories for the red-tops, but they just aren’t justified by the facts.  A countryside without cows, landscapes without livestock, are too depressing to contemplate.  I shall continue to eat meat with relish, and especially on Mondays.  But in a conciliatory gesture to vegetarians, I shall blow a large raspberry at Paul McCartney.

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