WIth Veganuary, which was launched in 2014 and has attracted more than 2,000,000 sign-ups worldwide, is once again making headlines as food manufacturers, restaurants, and supermarkets cater to the movement. For those who want to eat sustainably but not completely cut out meat, Regenuary is a consumer challenge.
Glen Burrows, cofounder of the Ethical Butcher and a vegetarian for 25+ years, came up with the idea to help people source food from producers who use regenerative agriculture methods. He says that being a vegetarian was like being a Martian back in 1989. I was an awkward guy at dinner parties, and I enjoyed that moral smugness. But then, after a long time, it wasn’t so great. It didn’t suit me.
He started eating meat again. It was almost like a life-force was switching back on. I was going to get my second black belt in martial art. He especially likes offal. It almost feels like you are taking drugs.
Burrows goal with Regenuary, he says, is to get people to think about how food is produced. He says the movement’s purpose is to encourage people to think more about the impacts of their food choices. It also aims to end the myth that all plant-based foods have better health than animal-based.
Regenuary is not like Veganuary’s simple rules. It involves eating seasonal produce that has been grown on farms that are considered to be lower- or even more beneficial than Veganuary. Environmental or social impacts. This idea is gaining popularity and regenerative farming may be the buzzword of 2022. Although it is still a broad concept, it can be defined as any farming that simultaneously improves the environment. The Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC), last week, featured talks on regenerative dairy and regenerative milk cows, as well as regenerative fashion, regenerative mindset, regenerative women, and regenerative suckler cattle.
Last year GroundswellThe UK’s premier event for nature friendly farming, George Eustice (Environment Secretary) said that Brexit was an opportunity to help regenerative agriculture. The UK’s biggest driver of biodiversity loss is agriculture. However, many farmers are already making environmental improvements on their farms and anticipating the changes in subsidies.
While many people support the idea for regenerative farming they argue that it should be stopped. Simon Lewis, University College London professor in global change science, states: “While I support regenerative farming and community agriculture as well as protecting soil, I think Regenuary’s greenwash for eating meat or drinking dairy is a red herring.” Lewis claims that plant-based diets are better than animal-based ones, and he is concerned about movements like Regenuary.
People can reduce their environmental impact by avoiding meat and dairy. Scientific studies showGlobally, humans farm 4.1bn hectares (101.1bn acres) of land. However, if everyone adopted a vegan lifestyle, just 1bn ha would be used. This would allow for more space to plant trees and protect wild habitats. This is the land sparing approach for wildlife protection.
Many regenerative farmers believe in Land sharingIt is possible for wildlife and farm animals to co-exist in more natural, low-intensity grazing systems. This creates a mosaic of habitats, and requires less chemical inputs.
A poll at the end of last Year showed that more than a third of UK citizens were interested in becoming vegan. In fact, meat consumption has dropped by 17% in the past decade. People pushing Regenuary might be better to say “hey, once you have finished your Vegenuary,” rather than saying “hey, if it still feels necessary to eat meat occasionally”, Lewis said. Lewis believes that the government must offer the most environmentally friendly and affordable option for consumers.
Burrows believes that people should eat more meat, but not necessarily less. Burrows believes that food is more valuable if you can see where it came from. He supports grass-based grazing systems, and encourages farmers and consumers to get involved in short, direct supply chains. He encourages people not to eat only prime cuts, but to embrace snout to tail eating, which means less carcass is wasted.
However, in terms carbon emissions, science suggests that regenerative meat-eating can only be sustained if there is a reduction of total consumption. This is something which the UK’s farming unions are yet to acknowledge. The Lancet recommends eating a maximum of 1. 100g red meat per week. Former chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Prof Sir Ian Boyd, believes that sheep and cattle populations need to fall by 90%, and half of the country’s farmland should be converted to woodland.
Both Regenuary, Veganuary, and other similar initiatives are part of a growing movement of people becoming more aware of the impact on the environment of food production. Their supporters should be allies and not rivals, says John Lynch, a researcher at the University of Oxford’s future of foods programme. I tend to support the less but better movement. This is because if you want to eat better meats, then there is often a welfare argument.
Lynch believes that some farmers feel like they are the villain and they disengage. He says that people are more likely to join if they don’t just give up livestock farming but still have some of the carbon- and biodiversity benefits.
Future government subsidies will support environmental efforts like planting trees, protecting soils, and restoring peatlands or wetlands. There are increasing efforts to integrate trees into existing livestock and crop systems. 70% of the UK’s agricultural sector is dedicated to agricultureThese efforts can have a significant impact on a more regenerative farming sector if they are done on a large-scale.
Equally, consumers are not willing to do Veganuary. However, they might consider Regenuary. Lynch says that this is to be encouraged, as long as it reduces meat consumption.
Some people are already vegetarians and want to keep eating only animal products. They don’t need to eat meat more than once a week. He says that if you eat meat or dairy every day, even if you cut back slightly, it’s still a step in the right direction.