Letters, June 24 2022

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The dangers of greenwashing

It is no secret that ‘assumption is the mother of all failures’ yet Tesco was made to look very stupid last week by assumptions about vegan food.

Tesco was hauled over the coals by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for claiming that swapping beef burgers for its vegan Plant Chef burgers ‘can make a difference to the planet’.

Unfortunately for Tesco, it had not a jot of evidence that this was the case and, given that the heavily-processed vegan burgers included ingredients shipped from all over the world, the ASA told Tesco that the adverts must not appear again in their current form.

The supermarket must also ensure that it does not make environmental claims about its products in the future unless it holds sufficient evidence to substantiate them.

This matters, not because there is any problem with people adopting plant-based diets, but because the assumption that moving from meat to a non-meat diet always provides a benefit for the environment.

As Tesco has learned, that is an assumption that cannot just be made.

The judgment should not be ‘meat bad, plant-based good’, but ‘locally sourced and sustainably produced good, food miles and heavily processed bad’.

Red meat produced in Britain is among the most sustainable in the world.

Despite the endless propaganda, cattle and sheep account for just 3.7 per cent of UK carbon emissions, if you include the carbon stored in grassland, and, unlike some plant-based products, very little meat consumed in the UK comes from systems that deplete rainforests and generate large amounts of emissions.

Knowing where your food comes from and how it is produced is far more important than whether it is animal or vegetable.

Challenging assumptions about the benefits of some plant-based products and the casual denigration of livestock farming matters because, if they are allowed to go unchallenged, they threaten the sustainability of both the planet and the countryside.

Tim Bonner, chief executive, Countryside Alliance.

Join Hebridean Way charity trek

Calling all explorers to Lymphoma Action’s nine-day trek across the beautiful islands of the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland this September.

Take on this sponsored walk and cross the chain of 10 islands from Vatersay on Barra to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.

Discover the Hebridean Way with us and enjoy amazing scenery whilst raising funds to make a real difference to the lives of people affected by lymphoma, the UK’s fifth most common cancer.

Lymphoma Action is the only charity in the UK dedicated to lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, and we are inviting you to take part to raise funds to support our work.

Registering is simple – sign up with a registration fee of £250 which goes towards your fundraising total. Then get to work on your sponsorship target of £2,500. We will help you with your fundraising.

You will be part of an exclusive team for this once-in-a-lifetime experience that’s a feast for the eyes.

You will hike along the flowering Machair coast, before crossing wild moors and empty peatlands as you venture north. Watch out for eagles, seals and dolphins along the way, as well as archaeological remains throughout the trail.

For further details on how to get involved, visit https://lymphoma-action.org.uk/hebridean-way-trek-2022.

Claire McInerney, Lymphoma Action.