Chris Darwin is the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin. He is on a mission to reduce the western world’s meat consumption. So, does he go far enough in his quest to make the world a better place?
“Humanity needs to evolve and eat less meat” 1
He claims that if everyone in the UK chose, from today, to avoid eating meat once a week, by June next year, the life expectancy of the total population would increase 300,000 years. Citizens would save £2.3 billion and create an area of forest the size of all of England and Wales’ national parks combined.
“We’re eating so much meat that it’s basically bad for us,” says Darwin. “One of the biggest problems we’ll face in the next 10 years is how to transition to a healthy diet. Cutting out meat is not only good for the individual, it’s good for society.”
Darwin has launched an app called the Darwin Challenge 2 to help people decrease the amount of meat they consume, launched at the same time as the World Meat Free Week 3 (supported by the likes of Joanna Lumley and Jon Bishop), which asks people to have at least one meat free meal over the course of the seven days.
“If we could persuade everyone in England to have a meat free day once a week, the impact would be colossal,” says Darwin. “The idea that we can reduce global meat consumption is outrageous, but I look at what Charles managed to achieve in his life and think, ‘Why can’t I try?’”
Livestock production is one of the main causes of extinction, a matter close to Darwin’s heart, as it results in habitats being destroyed.
The production of animals, including cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens, uses around 40 per cent of the world’s arable land, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations 4 .
It’s also responsible for 14.5 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
“I realised a long time ago that if I was going to stop the mass extinction of species I needed to take on the meat industry,” says Darwin.
“For people who lead busy lives, my talking about cute animals doesn’t motivate them to alter their behaviours,” he explains. “The current Western, big meat diet is taking a lot of time, years even, off your life.”
“If you say to everyone, ‘Become a vegan’, that’s a huge commitment,” he says. “Whereas if you say, ‘Why don’t you try one meat-free day a week?’ it’s not very hard. Then you can get lots of small acts making a big difference.”
There is an interesting interview with Chris Darwin on Eco Watch 5 .
The following is a TED Talk video 6 by Chris Darwin.
I applaud what Chris Darwin is doing. He is neither a vegan nor a vegetarian and is not demanding that people become either. However, I can’t get my head around the fact that this educated and informed man does not take his mission to its logical end – cutting out animal products altogether. I say this, not just because it’s better for human health to do so, nor because it means the torture of so many animals stops overnight, and not even because it would be the optimal way of protecting the natural environment; the main reason I say this is because of my concern that people are addicted to modern meat-rich diets, particularly processed foods containing animal products. And, in my experience of human nature, trying to cut down on addictions (such as tobacco, alcohol, gambling etc) is never as successful as cutting them out completely. And, in this case of human diets, the benefits of cutting out animal products altogether, as opposed to merely reducing intake, is something that it would be very hard to argue against on any reasonable grounds.
Perhaps I am too hard-line on this, and we should be grateful for any moves in the right direction; but when I look at the wealth of data supporting the total abstinence of animal products from the human diet 7 8 9 , it’s hard for me to advocate half-measures.
- The Telegraph 15 June 2018. “Chris Darwin: “Humanity needs to evolve and eat less meat” – Chris Darwin.
- The Darwin Challenge
- World Meat Free Week
- Animal Production: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United States
- Chris Darwin Would Really Love It If You’d Eat Less Meat: An Exclusive Interview With Charles Darwin’s Great-Great-Grandson
- Darwin’s Unfinished Business | Chris Darwin | TEDxSydney
- Cowspiracy: The Facts
- Union of Concerned Scientists: Hidden Costs of Industrial Agriculture
- Impact of Food Choices on the Environment. April 22, 2015. By Bruce Monger, PhD for CNS