The other side with Andrew Roe
The impact that our agriculture sector is having on climate change, as well as strategies for reducing this impact, continue to be fiercely debated.
The Government’s recent response to the recommendations of the Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership, also known (for no obvious reason) as He Waka Eke Noa, as well as last week’s nationwide farmer protests, have ensured that the topic is firmly in the media spotlight.
But is it fair that farmers are being asked to shoulder so much of the burden?
There are plenty of other sectors of our society who are contributing to the climate crisis and who are not being held to account.
One such group is the vegan and vegetarian community.
In my third year at Massey University, three of my four flatmates were vegetarians With andrew Roe and so, apart from the occasional sneaky mince and cheese behind the bike shed, I lived a meat-free lifestyle for the best part of 12 months.
So I know, first hand, the sort of toxic emissions that can result from a diet heavy in lentils and broccoli.
Even more so when accompanied by the popular vegan beverage made at a nearby health food factory (the Tui Brewery).
In their defence, vegetarians would argue that their offensive emissions (which are largely, but not entirely, gaseous) do not contain much carbon, so they won’t be contributing to global warming.
But I’m sure, based on my student experiences, that they contain most other elements from the periodic table, including one or two from the radioactive section, so they’ve got to be doing some damage to the environment.
But my main gripe with vegetarians is that they are not willing to be part of the collective effort to reduce this country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
If you buy into the concept that half of New Zealand’s emissions come from our farmed cattle, sheep and deer, then the obvious solution is to reduce their numbers.
And, what’s the best way to do that? To eat them, of course! “Save the Planet: Eat a Cow” would be a great slogan.
Over the last 15 years or so, the total number of cattle in New Zealand has increased by a million, which is directly correlated with the rapid increase in people choosing a meat-free diet.
According to a Colmar Brunton survey in 2020, 15% of our population “always or mostly eat plant-based meals”.
The job of controlling our livestock numbers is frustratingly falling on fewer and fewer people.
Animals are breeding at a faster rate than we can eat them!
We only have to look to India to see what could happen if this trend continues.
With 40% of the population being vegetarian, and many of the rest not eating any beef, the cattle population has got out of hand, now estimated at 300 million.
New Zealand farmers are doing the best they can to get their stock numbers down.
Each year they’re sending about 5 million cattle and more than 20 million sheep and lambs to the meatworks.
But they can’t do it on their own.
Come on vegetarians, why not lend a hand by having a “plant-free day” each week?
The whole country needs to work together if we are to eat our way out of the climate crisis.
“The job of controlling our livestock numbers is frustratingly falling on fewer and fewer people.”