The health and environmental implications of our food choices

In early November I attended a public seminar at the Oxford Martin School entitled “Well fed? The health and environmental implications of our food choices”. The seminar featured three distinguished speakers: Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet and Population Health at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Oxford University; Dr Tara Garnett, Principal Investigator at the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food and founder of the Food Climate Research Network; and Mike Rayner, Professor of Population Health at Oxford University and Chair of Sustain (a charity promoting sustainable food production). All three speakers advocated a reduction in meat consumption for both health and environmental reasons, although (perhaps understandably) none of them openly advocated vegetarianism. In particular, Tara Garnett showed a slide which urged readers to “eat meat sparingly, if at all” (my emphasis), and it seems to me that if ‘less is better’ as far as meat eating is concerned it surely follows that ‘none at all is best of all’, even if the experts are reluctant to admit it. (A video of the seminar and the ensuing question and answer session can be seen on the Oxford Martin School website at http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/videos/view/441 or on YouTube at http://ow.ly/DXO6M .)

Paul Appleby

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