On Saturday, The Guardian/Observer‘s debate series put Jay Rayner, a restaurant critic and food writer against Charles Sercombe, a sheep farmer and National Farmers Union chairman, on the question of whether Britons should eat less meat. Surprisingly, seafood never factored into this discussion.
Rayner, despite repeatedly professing his love of meat, argued that current meat production is unsustainable. Between the global warming methane emissions, land use, and lost ability to grow human consumable vegetation, he makes the point that there really is no other option other than to eat less meat For his part, Sercombe responded first that British livestock feed needs were at least 85% met through grazing on abundant natural grassland. When challenged on the statistic, he then notes that livestock producers imported significant amounts of feeds as well over the previous year.
What is notably missing from this conversation is the great potential that sustainable seafood offers the people of the United Kingdom and the world. As discussed in The Perfect Protein, sustainable seafood will be critical for our growing populations to meet their needs going forward. By emphasizing wild, smaller, and mostly local fish, as well as plenty of shellfish (besides shrimp), we can address all of the key problems associated with land-based meat production.
While land-based livestock produces around 37% of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) methane, even less sustainable fisheries produce significantly fewer GHGs. Land use become essentially zero when farmed fish are out of the picture, as the book suggests.
These two threats, climate emissions and land use, become greater every day. Fortunately, the perfect protein of our oceans offer a solution to both.