The climate change debate has become “incredibly simplified in favour of plant-based diets”, according to the author of a new book on the subject.
In her new book ‘The Great Plant-Based Con’, Jayne Buxton claims the environmental arguments for veganism are based on false and misleading statistics.
She suggests the debate is being shaped by a range of vested interests including ‘Big Pharma, Big Food and even a religious group with longstanding commitments to veganism’.
Ms Buxton also warns that, in her view, completely removing animal products from the human diet would be a ‘serious threat to human health and a red herring in the fight against climate change’.
Great Plant-Based Con
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, she explained what she means by the Great Plant-Based Con.
“It’s a con because the debate, over the past five years in particular, has become incredibly over-simplified in favour of plant-based diets,” she said.
“So, the benefits of plant-based diets have been grossly exaggerated and the costs of going plant-based have been underplayed.
“One of the reasons the debate has become so overly simplified is because the voices of ordinary vegans and vegetarians – who, by the way, have the right eat however they want - have been amplified by the media, by corporate interests and even some religious interests.
“They are using all their wealth and their might to push this really singular narrative.
“So, the way I think about it is not that it is a con in the old confidence trickster sense of the word but a con in the sense that these people are conditioning us to think there is only one way forward.”
Ms Buxton insisted claims about the emissions from agriculture made in documentaries like the 2015 film ‘Cowspiracy’ are “overhyped” – and suggested people would be better off tackling other parts of their lives to tackle climate change.
“When you look at the UK, livestock is responsible for 7% of emissions,” she suggested. “Now compare that to transport, it is 27%. Energy supply, 25%. Business and residential emissions, that’s 35% when you add those together.
“So clearly the single biggest thing we can do is not to give up meat. We need to attack those other areas.”
She also warned that the nutritional costs of going vegan have been “underplayed”.
“Unfortunately, the vegan at diet lacks many, many nutrients, including pre-form Vitamin A, B12, D3, EHA and DHA - which are, by the way, very essential for brain function and development - as well as a whole bunch of amino acids.
“Plant proteins are inferior to animal food proteins. They are not complete; they don’t have all the amin acids and they are not as biologically available to our bodies.
“So, if we are thinking of swapping everybody over from animal proteins to things like beans and rice, which is the plant source of proteins, we are going to find some significant health problems.”
She admitted that there are problems with the animal agricultural system and “we need to stop feeding grain to animals” – but insisted that full veganism is being pushed because it is “It is trendy and also an easy thing for people to do.”
“The system’s not perfect at the moment, but we can do better and we should not be taking the extreme route, which is eradicating livestock altogether,” she said.