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Recipe for peace in the great diet war

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I appreciate the responses to my letter on the vexed issue of diet (“Global processed-food industry is the poison, not Western meat and dairy”, January 3), but would like to clarify a few points.

Firstly, Darren Blakeley (“The great diet debate is about far more than personal health”, January 4) wrongly believes that I assume those opposed to eating meat and dairy products do so purely on the grounds of health. I am in fact well aware of their perceptions of the moral issues involved. He also highlights the environmental dangers posed by the overproduction of meat, and by overfishing, but as he rightly says, tighter regulation is needed. As an example, stocks of North Sea cod have dramatically increased in recent years due to the imposition of fishing quotas.
Secondly, tighter regulation and better enforcement are also needed to eradicate the animal welfare and environmental pollution issues caused by poorly controlled slaughterhouses, as highlighted by Diane Cornelius (“Bleeding burgers rare ribs and succulent mince – welcome to our meat-free future”, January 4). Just one example: CCTV will be introduced into slaughterhouses in England under new measures to improve animal welfare.
Thirdly, I will not even attempt to take up Eric Bahrt’s medical research challenge (“Take the Eric Bahrt steak challenge”, January 4). A craven surrender? Possibly, but Britain’s National Health Service website states that meat provides a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and also gives detailed advice about health risks related to certain types of meat products. That is good enough for me.
I do not underestimate the potential health and environmental problems related to the consumption of meat and dairy products, and I respect the opinions expressed by those who take a principled moral stance on these issues. However, we all have the right to make moral choices within the law, and forcing people to adopt a diet free of meat and dairy would be an intolerable breach of basic rights. Better and more effective regulation of animal welfare and pollution is the best way forward in reaching a compromise which might be acceptable to at least some on both sides of this debate.
Robin Grant
Bangkok
 

Published : January 05, 2018