General Article The case for eating meat

Topic Selected: Dietary Choices
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By Simon Wilson

What’s happened?

In his new book, a leading green campaigner has angered colleagues in the green lobby. Simon Fairlie, a former editor of The Ecologist, has challenged the received wisdom that farming meat is – or at any rate needs to be – a major cause of climate change. And in Meat: A Benign Extravagance, he offers a wealth of evidence to show that the case for a wholesale switch to vegetarianism is based on wrong assumptions, misleading assertions and statistical sleight of hand.

What’s the response been like?

Pretty remarkable. Take the academic and campaigning journalist George Monbiot. Since 2002 he has argued that ‘veganism is the only ethical response’ to the threat posed by climate change. But this month he wrote a heartfelt mea culpa in the Guardian, warmly recommending Fairlie’s ‘forensic and objective’ book. Such a public volte-face took many by surprise, given that Fairlie opens his book with an assault on Monbiot and his doctrinaire anti-meat attitu...

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