by Tim Bonner

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It is lucky for the BBC that there is a General Election going on otherwise the criticism of last week’s BBC One documentary ‘Meat: A Threat To Our Planet?’ would be on the front pages of newspapers rather than tucked away inside. That criticism is entirely justified when the British state broadcaster ran a 60 minute ‘documentary’ on meat production entirely focused on the impact of farming systems in North and South America without any consideration of the entirely different systems used for British meat production.

The programme was a straightforward attack on meat eating based on claims that meat production contributes to global warming through carbon emissions. It made no differentiation between the industrial farming systems in the US and Brazil, which it visited, and mainly grass-fed systems in Britain, which it did not. The documentary makers even cut a section in which the benefits of British grazing systems were explained. Such omissions can only be described as irresponsible and are more than just unfortunate. The beef industry is already facing a difficult period and a programme which actively seeks to drive down demand for all beef production regardless of how it is produced will have a real impact on the lives of British farmers. Meanwhile, the BBC is failing viewers by not explaining the benefits of sourcing local grass reared meat with high welfare standards and a low carbon footprint.

Right on the heels of this assault on beef farmers the BBC launched its BBC One Christmas trailer, which for reasons only it can explain, featured a nut roast and a turkey in an ‘I Love Vegans’ t-shirt. I assume the creators will claim that it is just a bit of fun and is representative of modern society, but the reality is that 75% of us will tuck into a turkey on Christmas Day and the majority of the rest will dine on an alternative meat. The choice to be a vegan or vegetarian is a perfectly valid one, but it is a choice most of us do not make. Why the BBC is so keen to attack the diet that most of us choose to eat it must explain, but whether it is in a 60 minute documentary, or a 60 second trailer the BBC’s attack on meat eating is disproportionate and disingenuous.

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