Wednesday 12 September 2012

Then they came for the meat-eaters

An opening shot in the forthcoming war against meat-eaters has been fired in BMJ Open.

Impact of a reduced red and processed meat dietary pattern on disease risks and greenhouse gas emissions in the UK: a modelling study

The gist of the study is that people who eat red and processed meat are more likely to get colorectal cancer and heart disease, and meat leads to more CO2 production than vegetarianism.

Conclusions: Reduced consumption of RPM [red and processed meat] would bring multiple benefits to health and environment.

Naturally, this means forceful lifestyle modification is on its way...

Climate change mitigation is a far-future benefit that may not directly affect those who must make lifestyle changes now. It is therefore unlikely to be a strong motivator for change. In contrast, health benefits provide near-term rewards to individuals for climate-friendly changes and may thus ‘nudge’ humanity towards a sustainable future.

Dietary recommendations should no longer be based on direct health effects alone. While the UK government has acknowledged the environmental impact of livestock production and is taking action with the industry to improve efficiency, changes in production will be insufficient alone to meet challenging emission reduction targets. Joint producer and consumer responsibility is needed, supported by the use of both production- and consumption-based GHG accounts.

Averting dangerous climate change will require multiple changes at all levels of society, and the potential contribution of reduced RPM consumption should be addressed.

And so it begins. My money's on a meat tax being the first policy recommendation. Governments do like a tax.

We tried to warn you, etc.

1 comment:

Ivan D said...

It is amazing what can be claimed based on epidemiology. The ongoing Epic study currently billed as the largest on lifestyle and cancer produced a rather inconvenient result in 2009.

Even the BBC had to admit that

"The vegetarians in the group in fact had a slightly higher rate of cancers of the colon and the rectum"

Unfortunately they did so as part of a dogma inspired piece that focused on a lower overall rate of all cancers in vegetarians which is unlikely to be meaningful:

At least they included a quote from the epidemiologist who heads up the UK effort:

"At the moment these findings are not strong enough to ask for particularly large changes in the diets of people following an average balanced diet."

Nobody seemed all that keen to jump to conclusions about this story except The Guardian of course:

The "journalist" in question was clearly unconcerned by the reticence of almost everyone involved and lead with:

"For years, they have boasted of the health benefits of their leafy diets, but now vegetarians have the proof that has so far eluded them: when it comes to cancer risks, they have the edge on carnivores."

I don't believe that the "proof" has not become any more convincing over the last 3 years and neither has the media. I know that the BMJ has continued its sad editorial decline.