Time for Cities to Talk About Abandoning Meat?

Ikinari Steak
Hummmm I will certainly miss steak…

More calls to reconsider our meat intake for the sake of the planet. Adrian hon a while ago mentioned a similar thing, suggesting eating meat will become like smoking is now? People will do it but looked upon as maybe selfish and causing harm.

I’m confident that in a hundred years, eating meat will be regarded in the negative way we now view racism or sexism – an ugly, demeaning, and unnecessary act. Like smoking, it will simply fall out of fashion because we’ll find better and healthier alternatives, although we’ll still occasionally eat humanely reared-and-killed animals. Note that I still eat meat even though I should know better.

To be fair, although I am very much in favour of eating meat mainly because the alternatives will cause me harm or even kill me (I kid not). I have been professionally advised multiple times not consider being vegetarian for this exact reason. Yes I could survive but it would mean lots of supplements to make up the things I get from meat.

Although I do see this becoming a really big problem and honestly for the sake of sustainability and longevity of the planet I have started limiting my meat intake a little. However in this blog, there is a lot of arguments which seem to indicate a high cost (the real cost) of meat might make people reconsider? Controversial maybe but in the same way sugar tax came into effect in the UK recently, I’ll be interested in the data which comes back. Or other places where they have done this type of thing?

So why cities? The post has some interesting thoughts….

This is where cities come into play. Obesity and climate change are two of the biggest challenges they’ll face in the 21st century. Ninety percent of urban areas are coastal, and their citizens will be the ones to feel the effects of rising sea levels and freak weather most deeply. So, too, will their health services and economies experience undue strain as the majority of their residents tip the scales and become overweight or obese. For cities, the consequences of inertia will be fatal.

But action must be born out of more than just necessity. Cities are also well placed to manage these changes. (The successes mayors have had in promoting activities like cycling, for instance — which also delivers enormous health and environmental benefits — is a testament to this.) The c40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, featuring 40 of the planet’s most influential cities, has claimed that city leaders have the flexibility which nation states lack: “City mayors are directly accountable to their constituents for their decisions, and are more nimble than state and national elected officials to take decisive action — often with immediate and impactful results.”

And this means they can interface with their citizens directly, getting to the root of problems and attitudes — the fact is, one study found that 90 percent of people’s justifications for eating meat boil down to it being “nice, necessary, normal, or natural.” Meanwhile, the majority of “meat-reducers” in the United Kingdom attribute the choice to improving their personal health — not animal welfare. Cities can move the debate beyond the ideological quagmire that governments, media, and activist groups are currently bogged down in.

Lots to think about… and it certainly makes good points about how our cities could be the biggest driver for this all. Of course it’s always great see my home of Bristol mentioned quite a bit in the examples although I’m sure there are many other shiny examples all over. That and the writer might have a bias to Bristol too.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.