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Meat: A Threat to Our Planet? BBC documentary guaranteed to put you off your chicken nuggets

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Investors are pouring money into startups that are trying to conjure steaks out of chicken-feather cells, but is this not fiddling with stomachs while Rome and everywhere else burns?

LUCY MANGAN: ‘You can mentally delete the question mark from Meat: A Threat to Our Planet? (BBC One) pretty early on. You may have felt confident enough to do so after the news that we eat 65bn animals a year, figuring that not much good can come from consumption that vast. Or you may have waited for the scenes in Texas, where beef is considered such a basic commodity that eateries abound that offer free 5lb steaks (just over two kilos) if you can down all of yours in one sitting. Or perhaps your growing feeling of disquiet did not resolve into certainty until you heard a few figures – such as that methane is a greenhouse gas 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. This means that each one of the 1.5bn cows on Earth heats it as much every year as the CO2 produced by burning 600 litres of petrol.

If you weren’t already bulk-ordering tofu, there was plenty more to come as the presenter, wildlife biologist Liz Bonnin,… dug ever deeper into the consequences of our carnivorous ways… Monoculture farming is devastating savannah regions, insect populations and – slowly but inexorably – us. Entire species are thought to be going extinct before they’ve even been discovered. What a piece of effing work is man. We’re raiding the seas now, too, for fish to grind up into meal for the livestock we wish to eat. Along with the turning over of hundreds of thousands of square miles of arable land whose produce would support many humans to crops that fatten animals to feed proportionally fewer of us, it’s such a fantastically inefficient way to run the world you almost find yourself going through the looking glass and wondering whether someone actually planned it…

Bonnin tried to leave us with hope, but doesn’t everyone? One pig farmer, Tom Butler, is converting his hog waste into biogas. What he’s doing could be carried out large-scale… However, the sight of Daffodil the cow living with a hole in her stomach so that scientists can work out the best methane-reducing diet for ruminants will live long in the memory. But is this not fiddling with stomachs while Rome and everywhere else burns? I am glad investors are pouring money into startups that are trying to conjure steaks out of chicken-feather cells, but as Bonnin noted, it does seem as if it’s time to find a way to live that involves bowing to rather than endlessly manipulating nature. In the meantime, comes the cry as heedless and unknowing as any issuing from a French queen’s throat – let them eat steak. We’ll see if the revolution comes in time’. SOURCE…

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