Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Truth about Veggies; (1) No Meat, Thanks: (Clockwise from above) Lily Cole, Paul and Stella McCartney, Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, Joanna Lumley, Russell Brand and Fearne Cotton (2) Cheer Up: Kids Are Getting More Worried

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Truth about Veggies; (1) No Meat, Thanks: (Clockwise from above) Lily Cole, Paul and Stella McCartney, Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, Joanna Lumley, Russell Brand and Fearne Cotton (2) Cheer Up: Kids Are Getting More Worried

Article excerpt

Byline: Dr Mark Porter

MEAT-eaters could make a significant contribution to the fight against global warming by having a meat-free day every week, according to one of the United Nations leading experts on climate change.

Factors such as deforestation, methane production and the energy required to produce feed and fertilisers mean that the average meat-eater "produces" 1.5 tonnes more carbon dioxide a year than a vegetarian. But it is not just the climate that would benefit if more of us ate less meat.

Although a committed omnivore, I would be the first to admit that we now eat far more meat than the body requires or was designed to cope with.

And we are paying the price through an increased propensity to conditions such as heart disease and bowel cancer.

I am not suggesting that everyone joins the three million or so people who already eschew animal products to varying degrees in the UK, but it wouldn't do us any harm to heed the advice of the chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and cut back on the amount of meat we eat particularly red meats, such as lamb and beef, which are higher in saturated fats than leaner meats like poultry.

A meat-free diet is often deemed to be a poor substitute for the "real" thing, but we can survive perfectly well without meat as long as we remember there is more to turning veggie than simply cutting out animal products. A healthy vegetarian diet requires careful planning.

There is little doubt that a poor vegetarian diet is a recipe for deficiency, particularly in growing children and women facing the increasing demands of pregnancy and breast-feeding..

Professor Lindsay Allen, director of the US Agricultural Research Service, recently warned such groups to avoid strict vegetarian diets after her research showed that meat-eating children grow more quickly and are more intelligent than their vegan peers.

At first glance, Professor Allen's findings do seem worrying and they conform to the stereotypical image of the wan veggie child. But on closer examination they are not applicable to most vegetarians living in the UK. Her research was carried out on African schoolchildren whose diets consisted of little more than starchy maize and beanbased foods a much poorer quality diet than one would expect to find even among the strictest vegans in the UK.

And her conclusions fly in the face of other research suggesting that vegetarian children brought up in developed countries on a carefully balanced diet often grow faster than those who eat meat.

Do it properly and the health benefits of cutting out meat are myriad. Studies over the years have shown that vegetarian children grow at similar rates to their meat-eating peers, with at least one study suggesting they are likely to be taller. …

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