In a topical and provocative documentary, environmental campaigner George Monbiot says food is driving us towards global disaster.
We’re told the cure to climate breakdown is to stop flying, or stop using plastic bags, or to have smaller families. But Monbiot argues that the biggest single problem is how we feed ourselves, particularly on meat. ‘Animal grazing is a disaster,’ he says, ‘we cut down trees that suck in atmospheric carbon and replace them with animals responsible for generating vast quantities of greenhouse gases. And we’re blind to the problem: some of what we think are Britain’s most beautiful landscapes, such as the Lake District, are treeless “sheep-wrecked” deserts.’
Grazing uses twice as much land as all the world’s crops but produces just one per cent of our food. Free-range farming may be kinder to the animals but does even more damage to the planet.
Monbiot believes there is room for optimism. He looks at alternative food sources, including synthetic meat, and a process that produces protein from just bacteria, and air. Freeing grazing land will allow re-wilding, with forests that will capture carbon.
In a powerful sequence, vegan Monbiot shows that he is prepared to make a painful personal sacrifice, by killing a deer, to allow trees to re-grow in the Scottish Highlands.
Apocalypse Cow – How Meat Killed The Planet – Wednesday at 10.00pm on Channel 4.