>Can meat be sustainable? La viande – peut-elle être durable?

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Since I read the Observer last Sunday Ive been thinking a lot about meat. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, had said that for the sake of the environment, people should have one meat-free day a week and if possible reduce their consumption of meat further. Lo Jardinièr and I already have at least one meat-free day a week – should we be eating less meat?



Depuis le dimanche dernier quand jai lu lObserver jai pensé beaucoup de la viande. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, le président de la Commission de changement du climat de lONU, avait dit quil faut un jour par semaine sans la viande pour le bien de lenvironnement. Lo Jardinièr et moi, nous passons au moins un jour par semaine sans manger la viande – devons-nous manger moins de viande?


Apparently, 18 % of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by meat production and the methane produced by animals, mostly cows. However, this figure includes transport and processing and it is a global figure – for example, the figure for the UK is said to be 8 %. It seems to me that the problems are caused mainly by beef production and by industrial farming practices. I wonder whether we should be questioning these rather than trying to persuade people to give up meat altogether.



Selon le journal, 18 % des émissions de de gaz à effet de serre sont à cause de la production de la viande et du méthane produit par les animaux, surtout les vaches. Mais, ce chiffre inclut le transport et le traitement, et cest un chiffre mondial – par exemple, le chiffre pour le Royaume Uni est 8 %. Il me semble que les problèmes sont occasionnés par la production du boeuf et par les méthodes industrielles agriculturelles.


This is a much more complicated issue than it first appears. The Observer article goes on to say that in some upland areas of the world rearing animals is the only way to produce food from the land. Where I come from in Wales it is impossible to use the moorland to grow vegetables at 300 metres above sea-level. The only farming that is possible is sheep-rearing. And sheep farming actually preserves these landscapes – without the grazing the heather would grow out of control, killing off other plants and leaving huge fire-prone barren areas. This would threaten the peat bogs which are an important store of CO2.



Cest une question beaucoup plus compliquée quelle semble. Larticle de lObserver continue – dans quelques hauterres du monde la seule mode de utiliser la terre pour la production alimentale est dy élever les animaux. Sur les hauterres du Pays de Galles, doù je viens, cest impossible de cultiver les légumes à 300 m. Lélevage de moutons et de brebis est la seule méthode dagriculture qui y est possible. Et en fait cet élevage préserve lenvironnement. Sans les moutons qui broutent la lande, la bruyère pousserait sans controle, elle tuerait les autres plantes et lasserait de la terre aride encline au feu. Ça menacerait la tourbière qui est une réserve importante de CO2.


Beef farming is problematic – as is dairy farming – so I think that we should be trying to find ways of extending sustainable production of other meat – pork, chicken and other poultry – locally to the market for it, in order to reduce transport. Smallholders and small farmers have found that free-range pigs and chickens are a necessary part of their food production. John Seymour found this many years ago (The Fat of the Land, Faber, 1974). The environmentalist Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivores Dilemma, has researched this subject extensively in the USA and found:



La production de boeuf est problématique – comme lélevage laitier – donc je pense que nous devons essayer de trouver les méthodes délargir la production durable des autres viandes – le porc et les volailles – près des consommateurs. Les petits fermiers ont trouvé que les cochons et les poulets élevés en plein air forme une partie necessaire de leur production. (Voir John Seymour, The Fat of the Land). Lécologiste Michael Pollan a fait des recherches dans ce sujet aux États Unis et il a trouvé que:


The vegetarian utopia would make us even more dependent than we already are on an industrialized national food chain. … it is doubltful that you can build a more sustainable agriculture without animals to cycle nutrients and support local food production. [New York Times, posted on www.organiconsumers.org]



It is simplistic and unrealistic to suggest that everyone should become vegetarian – we need to ask questions about how we can extend sustainable local food production for omnivores and for those who choose a vegetarian diet. Some people find these questions difficult – which they are, of course. I have been told by one vegetarian blogger that my comments are not welcome on his blog. But it is too important to ignore. Im not sure what the answers are, but we need to think about the issues and discuss them.



Cest trop simple et irréaliste à suggerer que tout le monde doit devenir végétarien – il faut poser des questions au sujet délargir la production durable de la nourriture pour les omnivores et les végétariens. Il ya des gens qui trouvent ces questions difficiles – et elles sont difficiles, bien sûr. Un blogger végétarien ma dit que mes commentaires ne sont pas les bienvenus sur son blog. Mais il ne faut pas lignorer – cest trop important. Je ne suis pas sûre ce quil faut faire, mais on doit en penser et discuter.

Some vegetarian recipes / des recettes végetériennes



Chilled tomato soup / soupe de tomates fraîche



500 gm tomatoes / tomates

1 sweet onion / oignon doux

salt / sel

1 tablespoonful olive oil / cuillerée dhuile dolive



Peel the tomatoes and chop them. Chop the onion. Liquidise with the onion, oil and salt. Serve chilled garnished with chopped basil leaves.



Épluchez les tomates et coupez-les. Coupez loignon doux. Mélangez-les avec lhuile et le sel dans un mixeur. Servez la soupe fraîche, garnie de feuilles de basilique.



Börek (a Turkish recipe / une recette turque)



4 sheets of fillo pastry / 4 feuilles de brick

200 gm ricotta / fromage de brebis

1 sweet onion / oignon doux

2 cloves of garlic / gousses dail

a small bunch of parsley / un petit bouquet de persil

ground coriander, paprika, cumin / un peu de coriandre, piment doux, cumin

salt / sel



Chop the onion, garlic and parsley. Mix with the ricotta, spices and salt.

Coupez loignon, lail et le persil. Mélangez-les avec le fromage, les épices et le sel.



Cut the pastry sheets in half (the ones I bought came in circular sheets about 20 cm in diameter). Put a spoonful of the cheese mixture on each piece and fold into triangles.

Coupez les feuilles de brick en deux. Mettez une cuillerée du mélange de fromage sur chaque morceau de brick and le pliez en triangle.



Fry the triangles in olive oil until they are lightly browned. Serve hot.

Poêlez les triangles dans un peu dhuile dolive jusquà ce quils soient dorés. Servez-les chauds.

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6 thoughts on “>Can meat be sustainable? La viande – peut-elle être durable?

  1. >This is a very good and thoughtful article. In Switzerland many of the small producers have been pushed out delibaretly by the gorvernement to make room for the multinationals. My sister in Switzerland refuses to by chicken or other meats from china or Brazil or wherever. I think it was a big misstake. They have destroyed the lively hood of many small producers. Now the production of first class organic food is coming back in some countries. My vegetable gardener and I have reduced our meat consumption to 2 or three days a week. I have 6 chooks which keep us happy with enough eggs. The good thing is also they recycle all the scraps from the kitchen; all the fruits we don’t eat. I think we will end up with a huge shortage of food.

  2. >Your Borek recipe looks amazing. Thanks for posting it, and for posting this very thoughtful overview of an issue that concerns every person worldwide. I have been a vegetarian for decades now, but we have six heritage chickens that produce wonderful (unfertilized) eggs for us and are not only fun, but a huge help in terms of eating scraps and helping us recycle everything. Much as I love animals (I allow the chickens, for example, to lead a safe, enjoyable life here for their entire natural lives), I loathe the divisive moral superiority embraced by many vegetarians (and, of course, the derision heaped on vegetarians in return by many omnivores). My own feeling is that we’re all trying to do what we can, and it’s making the effort that matters, not what particular effort you happen to be making. Yes, I don’t eat animals, but no, I don’t visit prisoners or teach in a special-needs school. Thank you for offering a balanced view.

  3. >Thanks, our friend ben. You’re right, neither moral superiority or derision help matters at all, we all just do what we can to help make a better world. I just wanted to get people thinking about these complicated issues – I don’t know the answers!Hope you enjoy the borek! And thanks for introducing me to your blog which I shall read.

  4. >Great post Chaiselongue and I agree with our friend ben. It is impossible to have a balanced debate if we are too partisan about it. The big issue i think is moderation. If the entire world stopped eating meat completely it would have many detrimental affects, as you point out. We in the west probably consume far more than we need or indeed would be our fair share but then it is for each individual to do what they feel is best.

  5. Pingback: A double challenge | olivesandartichokes

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