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We don't all have to be vegans to tackle climate change, says Suffolk peer

PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 July 2019 | UPDATED: 12:05 05 July 2019

Lord Deben speaking at the Suffolk Carbon Charter event in Freckenham  Pictures; Ross Bentley

Lord Deben speaking at the Suffolk Carbon Charter event in Freckenham Pictures; Ross Bentley

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Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, Lord Deben, advocates eating less and 'better meat'

Lord Deben (centre) alongside fellow speaker Nic Bury from the University of Suffolk (left) and Nick Woolley, managing director at Woolley Associates, which hosted the Suffolk Carbon Charter event. Picture; Ross BentleyLord Deben (centre) alongside fellow speaker Nic Bury from the University of Suffolk (left) and Nick Woolley, managing director at Woolley Associates, which hosted the Suffolk Carbon Charter event. Picture; Ross Bentley

People will not have to become vegans in the struggle to tackle the climate crisis, a leading figure in the climate change movement has said.

Former Member of Parliament for Suffolk Coastal, Lord Deben, who is a member of the House of Lords and chairman of the UK's independent Committee on Climate Change, made the comments at a business gathering in west Suffolk on Thursday.

In response to a question from the audience, he said: "I fundamentally disagree with the argument that we would all be better off if we ate a plant-based diet.

READ MORE: Working to win over stomachs and minds in the war against food waste

"Of course, people have an individual right to choose to be vegan but we tend to go to extremes, and if you tell people they have to go vegan, they won't do it."

Lord Deben breeds Red Poll cattle on his Suffolk estate Picture:  Julie KempLord Deben breeds Red Poll cattle on his Suffolk estate Picture: Julie Kemp

Lord Deben, who breeds Red Poll cattle on his Suffolk estate, said a mixed farming approach, combining both agriculture and pasture grazing, is the best solution for restoring the quality of soil and sequestering carbon into the ground.

"We will put our future in peril unless we take a mixed farming approach because we have seen the harm caused by mono-cultures across the region," he added.

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Better meat

Lord Deben was guest speaker at a Suffolk Carbon Charter event in Freckenham near Midenhall being held to recognise the carbon reduction measures taken by small and medium-sized businesses in the region.

He suggested a more realistic dietary target was for people to reduce their meat consumption by 20%- and that "people ought to be eating better meat".

He added: "The price of food has dropped and dropped - we have to think that if food is being produced at such a low cost, some cutting of corners is being done. We are eating too much food and wasting too much."

The Committee on Climate Change is due to publish its 2019 Progress Report to Parliament next week, including the Committee's annual assessment of UK progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and its biennial assessment of progress in preparing for the impacts of climate change.

READ MORE: Could leaving parts of East Anglia to grow wild help us tackle climate change?

Lord Deben said a key way of taking carbon out of the atmosphere was to introduce a "significant" tree-planting programme. He advocated a system to help people "maintain and keep" trees because a problem in the past has been too many trees that have been planted have died.

"Far too much bad tree planting has gone on," he added.

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