OPINION: Michael Gove Is Irresponsible To Encourage Meat Consumption

Gove's vision for UK agriculture post-Brexit sees farmers playing a central role in improving public health - and it's not even April 1
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Doctors and health experts have hit back at Gove following his comments about eating meat

Doctors and health experts have hit back at Gove following his comments about eating meat

Meat and dairy foods are crucial to a balanced diet, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has told farmers. 

Gove claims improving our national diet is an important job for our farmers, he said: "A balanced diet, rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, beans, pulses and cereals, fresh dairy produce and protein sources such as fresh fish, offal and properly sourced meat is critical to human health and flourishing."

'Out of touch'

Gove is clearly completely out of touch with what constitutes a healthy diet. 

Cow's milk and dairy foods are linked to a huge number of illnesses and diseases including teenage acne, allergies, arthritis, some cancers, colic, constipation, coronary heart disease, Crohn's disease, diabetes, dementia, ear infection, food poisoning, gallstones, kidney disease, migraine, autoimmune conditions, including multiple sclerosis, overweight, obesity and osteoporosis*. 

In 2015, The World Health Organisation published an extensive review of the impact of processed and red meat on health. It concluded that processed meats (bacon, ham and sausages) do cause cancer and red meat (beef, pork and lamb) probably does too.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove

Environment Secretary Michael Gove

'Appropriate meat level' 

The Guardian asked Gove if the government might consider suggesting that people reduce their meat consumption. 

He replied: "For health reasons there’s an appropriate level of meat in anyone's diet which doctors and nutritionists would advise us to consume."

Almost 30 doctors have signed an open letter to Gove following his claims; Dr Shireen Kassam stated in Plant Based News: "The 'Western' diet, high in animal and processed foods, is the leading cause of illness and death contributing to high rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and hypertension. 

"We know from many scientific studies that the longest lived, healthiest populations are those eating a predominantly plant-based diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes."

Meat and dairy

In 2016, Public Health England's new dietary advice recommended people halve their dairy intake and eat less meat, replacing it with beans and pulses. Does Gove even know what his own Government’s public health policy is?

Gove is also revealing his ignorance of the devastating effect livestock farming is having on the environment. 

Professor Peter Scarborough of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food said in the UK, a 50 percent reduction in meat and dairy consumption (replacing them with fruit, vegetables, pulses and wholegrain foods), could result in a 19 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and prevent over 43,000 deaths a year. Going vegan, Scarborough told Viva!, would cut emissions by half!

Reduction in demand

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, writing in the journal Nature Climate Change say that changing the way we farm animals will not be enough, a decrease in agriculture-related emissions can only be achieved by a reduction in demand for animal foods.

Encouraging people to eat meat and dairy foods is short-sighted and irresponsible.

Find out why meat and dairy are so harmful and why a vegan diet is best in Viva!'s fully-referenced reportshere

*You can read more about the detrimental health effects of dairyhere