Ireland 'needs to act' on report that urges 90 per cent cut in meat-eating

Report co-author says Irish Government needs to step up – not just individuals

Prof Jessica Fanzo at the Irish launch of the EAT-Lancet Commission Report, which she co-authored, at the Centre for Global Development at University College Cork. Photograph: Tomas Tyner, UCC

Prof Jessica Fanzo at the Irish launch of the EAT-Lancet Commission Report, which she co-authored, at the Centre for Global Development at University College Cork. Photograph: Tomas Tyner, UCC

 

One of the authors of a controversial international report that recommends meat consumption be reduced by 90 per cent to avert climate change has said the Irish Government needs to step up and respond to its findings.

The Eat-Lancet report, compiled by scientists who study nutrition and food policy, recommends a largely plant-based diet.

The report’s co-author Prof Jessica Fanzo, director of the global food ethics and policy programme at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, was in UCC on Thursday for the Irish launch of the report.

She said she accepted that the document didn’t address issues such as certain countries’ economic reliance on agriculture, and conceded that it sets out “very ambitious scientific targets”.

She said she could also appreciate the “concern” and “fear” surrounding the dietary recommendation of significant reductions in meat.

“Ranchers, farmers and producers are concerned about their livelihood. There needs to be more nuanced discussions on this.”

But Prof Fanzo stressed the onus was on the Government to take action and explore what measures society could take.

“I think the question then is what does Ireland want to do? And thinking of themselves not only for their own economic growth but as global citizens? What is Ireland’s position in this? That is a conversation that Government and ranchers all need to be at the table to have.”

She said now was the time for governments to say whether or not they supported the report in its entirety.

“Or they can say that they support pieces of it. I think it is time for governments to step up. And I particularly put it on governments. Individual choices can be made about not eating meat at lunchtime or looking at the vegetarian menu in a restaurant but it is governments who can impact real change.”

Prof Fanzo stated the report was designed to act as a catalyst for debate.

“It’s lofty. It is global. I would say it is a bit vague sometimes. Sometimes overly prescriptive. But that is meant then to lead to ‘What will Ireland do? What will the United States do? What will Kenya do with this report?’ Those are the questions.”

The report says that meat consumption in western countries such as Ireland may need to drop by 90 per cent to avert a climate catastrophe and reverse our obesity epidemic.

A plant-based diet is recommended which would mean the average Irish person’s beef and lamb consumption being reduced by 90 per cent to just 7g a day.

People would also be limited to 7g of pork a day and 29g of chicken.

Dairy consumption would also be reduced to just one glass of milk a day (250ml), or less if you eat cheese or butter.

The World Health Organisation withdrew its endorsement of the report last month after strong lobbying from Italy amid concern over the impact on the beef industry.