'Farm groups must fight for better prices rather than getting upset about what we tell kids to eat'- An Taisce

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Claire Fox

Claire Fox

An Taisce has insisted that it is not promoting veganism and that farm organisations would be "better off" focusing on fighting for better factory prices for their members than getting upset about what it is advising children to eat.

An Taisce came under fire last week when the IFA claimed its Green Schools resource pack was promoting veganism by encouraging children to engage in 'Meatless Mondays'.

Public Affairs Officer for An Taisce Charles Stanley Smith said that it is “untrue” that the trust is promoting a vegan diet but that it will not apologise for giving climate advice to second level students.

“I’m not a vegan. I will never be a vegan. I don’t know how somebody has got this idea that we’re promoting veganism. There was a pack of cards produced and the ideas came from kids themselves as to how climate change can be dealt with and this was one of the suggestions,” Mr Stanley Smith told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture’s meeting on the Future of the Beef sector yesterday.

“This is being over made in to fact that we are promoting veganism and it is untrue and I certainly will never promote veganism myself. I have been a meat eater for a long time and I understand the quality of Irish beef and am fully behind it and I would promote Irish beef.

“We feel the members of the agriculture groups would be better off fighting for their members for better prices against the retailers and the factories rather than them getting themselves upset about the fact that we are telling students to think about what they eat.”

An Taisce’s Ian Lumley added that the Food Wise 2025 document sets Ireland on a wholly unsustainable pathway, and that “despite the hysterical overreaction of agri lobbyists" meat consumption does need to be reduced.

“We need to reduce the amount of meat in our diets in order to have enough food in the world to feed everyone, while limiting the impacts of climate change. Beef in turn is the meat that is least efficient in terms of converting primary energy into food for humans,” said Mr Lumley.

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Mr Lumley explained that a transition towards low-input land-use including more tillage, horticulture, agroforestry and permanent woodland as well as energy crops is needed.

“This option would offer farmers a positive and genuinely “climate-smart” future, and would likely increase rural employment and resilience.”

He remarked that Ireland imported over four million tonnes of animal feedstuffs in 2018 and that the 2018 fodder crisis showed the extreme vulnerability of intensive beef and dairy production to climate-driven weather extremes.

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