Tuesday 23 July 2019

'Meat and dairy is what Irish DNA is made of' - Supermac's CEO Pat McDonagh on veganism

'I had an uncle and he believed in bacon and cabbage five days a week and then on the weekend he would have beef. He lived to 96'

Taste of home: Founder Pat McDonagh in the O’Connell St branch of Supermacs. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Taste of home: Founder Pat McDonagh in the O’Connell St branch of Supermacs. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

MEAT and dairy products have been staples in Irish people's diets for centuries and are ingrained in our DNA, Supermac's founder Pat McDonagh claimed.

There has been a steady increase in recent years of people adopting vegan and vegetarian diets and this week a Eat-'Lancet' Commission report warned that meat consumption worldwide must be slashed by 90pc to avert climate catastrophe.

The report, which was comprised by 37 experts from 16 countries specialising in health, nutrition, environmental sustainability, economics and political backgrounds, claimed that reducing meat intake could prevent 11 million premature deaths per year by 2050.

Speaking on The Business on RTE Radio One this morning, Mr McDonagh said he doesn't think the research will prompt Irish people to drastically change their eating habits.

“There is something different every week,” he said.

“If you look at it this way, the staple diet and foods of Irish people for the last couple of hundred years have been meat, potatoes, vegetables, cheese, milk and so on. That’s what our DNA is made up of.

“To change that at this stage, to go and radically change from whatever your current diet is to some other diet.

“You’re talking about these burgers that are factory made, as opposed to be made by animals, and there’s probably soya bean and all kinds of chemicals put into them. Who knows what goes in to them? It can’t be grass fed animals and that’s what we produce here in Ireland.

“I had an uncle, Lord Rest him, and he believed in bacon and cabbage five days a week and then on the weekend he would have beef or whatever. He was a bachelor and lived to 96.”

Mr McDonagh said that he doesn't think that the research truly reflects the causes of the environmental issues the world is currently facing.

He did say that his customers can enjoy a variety of options in Supermacs and that he has noticed a change in what menu items are proving popular.

“Look cattle have been grazing fields and animals have been grazing fields since pretty much time began,” he argued.

“I don’t think that’s the real problem. I think it’s the industrial waste and the wastage we generally have, and don’t care about, is as much a threat at the moment. We have plenty of alternatives, whether it’s chicken or pizza or whatever, because there are plenty of sandwiches available apart from that.

“There is much less meat eaten in Ireland and in our restaurants than there was maybe five or six years ago. What we have seen is a huge growth in the chicken side of the business over the last five to ten years.”

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