I've got a lot of time for people who are vegetarians. It's a principled statement of self-belief that gets unjustifiable ridicule from some. But I have very little time for their sanctimonious organisations.
The latest hare-brained scheme is Meat Free Monday. You know you are on dodgy ground when you are backed by Sir Paul McCartney (so no suprise to find that that Linda McCartney Foods are corporate sponsors, eh!) and you know you're totally screwed when Zac Goldsmith signs up, perhaps seeing support for the unspeakable in full pursuit after the uneatable as doing his bit for the vegetarian cause.
And like the balloon boy fiasco, the media have again shown themselves incapable of performing simple mathematics and have simply presented yet another press release as news.
Production costs in CO2 for beef is 13,300g CO2/Kg. Chicken is 3,500 CO2/Kg. If one person gives up beef one day a week and replaces it with chicken the net effect is greater than a chicken eater going vegetarian for a day. To have the message with the biggest effect, the campaign should in fact be encouraging a mostly beef free diet, By side-stepping the most effective option it is shown up as nothing more than slactivism. In fact, if Meat Free Monday Ltd. really wanted to reduce emissions their public stance the message from the campaign has got to be 'Kill more chickens to save the planet'. Is that what they want?
Except that is not really the idea is it. It's simply a change in tactics. Co-opting the green agenda to the cause was the obvious next move with the majority of people carrying on chomping their sausages despite knowing what goes into them like never before. You see, with Jamie Oliver and BBC Three slaughtering animals on television and showing them being made into food and eaten before a TV dinner audience, the McCartney idea that glass-walled slaughter-houses would turn the nation vegetarian hasn't worked. In fact the programmes made me buy more free range rather than stop.
As I said, I have a lot of respect for people who personally choose to be vegetarians but whether it's religion, politics or whether to scoff a bacon sarnie, people simply do not like having things stuffed down their throats by pressure groups, especially when in this case the message simply does not add up.