Around 50 Conservative MPs have called on public sector caterers to drop their plans to reduce meat on their menus by 20 per cent.
Alarmed to see mainstream media support for the ’20 per cent less meat’ campaign by the Public Sector Catering 100 (PSC100), with the Daily Mail backing the movement based on reducing carbon emissions, the MPs have united to highlight the complexity of the issue.
The campaign has called on schools, universities, hospitals and care homes to reduce the meat on their menus by 20 per cent.
In separate letters to the editor of the Daily Mail and the chairman of the PSC100, Andy Jones, former Defra secretary, Theresa Villiers, said: “It is wrong to assume meat necessarily involves higher carbon emissions than non-meat alternatives.
“The question is far more complex, and depends on the method of production.
“For example, replacing UK beef or lamb with avocados from Peru or sugar snap peas from Kenya could lead to a bigger environmental impact not a smaller one."
Ms Villiers also highlighted the easiest way to reduce the carbon impact of food is to buy local and British, and reassured consumers red meat produced in the UK is among the most sustainable in the world.
She said: "Well managed livestock farming delivers important environmental benefits, including conservation of wildlife habitats, and keeping carbon locked in pasture.
“This is in sharp contrast to farming in many other countries which can lead to deforestation and environmental damage.”