to think that Green Party candidates should be vegetarian?

(57 Posts)
TeddyBare Sat 04-May-13 15:55:08

Given that the environmental damage caused by the meat industry is pretty serious and undeniable, aibu to think that someone trying to get elected for the green party should be vegetarian? I had lunch with some old friends, one of whom has a partner who ran in a council election for the Green party in England. The green party guy had meat for starter and main. Is it just me who finds this rather hypocritical?

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sat 04-May-13 15:57:53

Depends, if it was Findus Cheese & Bacon crispy pancakes followed by intensively farmed veal maybe but wouldn't bother me if it was organic, free range produce.

More importantly, I think the Green Party should stop supporting Homeopathy and vandalising GM research and then maybe I would think about voting for them.

aftermay Sat 04-May-13 15:59:03

I think they should also wear long beards and wash with restraint. Saving water is important.

aftermay Sat 04-May-13 16:00:25

I think they've changed their stance on homeopathy nowadays. They saw the (non-electrical, sustainable) light.

squoosh Sat 04-May-13 16:01:24

Interesting question but no I don't think you need to be a vegetarian to be a Green. Anti factory farming certainly.

stargirl1701 Sat 04-May-13 16:03:06

No. I think if you eat organic, locally produced meat then that is fine.

claraschu Sat 04-May-13 16:04:18


People are in denial about the environmental damage done by the meat industry. The Green Party should be fighting this difficult battle.

aftermay Sat 04-May-13 16:06:40

OP, I think your standards are too high. It's like asking Tony Blair not to send his kids to private schools. I couldn't think of any more up to date example but I'm sure we can come up with a good list.

squoosh Sat 04-May-13 16:06:55

They would remain a very niche party if they limited membership to vegetarians only. I think they have a bit too much ambition as a party for that.

HollyBerryBush Sat 04-May-13 16:08:45

But they hug trees

TeddyBare Sat 04-May-13 16:09:29

I think organic, free-range, locally sourced meat is enough of an effort if you're an average person. But even that is worse for the environment that not eating meat, so I feel like someone trying to get elected on environmental issues should be making a bigger effort that everyone else. Lead by example and all that.

OttilieKnackered Sat 04-May-13 16:11:45

Tony Blair didn't send his children to private schools.

JuliaScurr Sat 04-May-13 16:12:21

the Greens should stop making cuts when they promised not to

TeddyBare Sat 04-May-13 16:14:45

Julia are you confusing the Greens with the Lib Dems?

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 04-May-13 16:16:55

YABU. Being vegetarian is just a pointless middle class way of feeling better, and being smug about, their choices.

A truly committed green party member should be vegan...

uncongenial Sat 04-May-13 16:19:54

No, I don't think it's hypocrital at all.

uncongenial Sat 04-May-13 16:20:24

hypocritical, even!

VerySmallSqueak Sat 04-May-13 16:25:40

I think you make a fair point there.
I'm interested to see what others say while I sit on the fence.

WMittens Sat 04-May-13 16:27:08

Given that the environmental damage caused by the meat industry is pretty serious and undeniable


Beamur Sat 04-May-13 16:30:27

It's not that simple. But I would agree that what kind of meat they choose to eat does matter.

k2togm1 Sat 04-May-13 16:31:48

I thought they had also changed their gm stance???

Being vegan isn't so green either, not much soya being grown in the uk, and all those procesed imitation sausages are very carbon intensive.
I'd say a green candidate has to be vegetarian unless he eats the single pig that he breeds and slaughters once a year, and perhaps a chicken or two also from his own back garden. I'd be more inclined to say they had to cycle everywhere.

fubbsy Sat 04-May-13 16:51:06

YABU The Green Party is just a political party like any other. Members don't have to all agree on everything. If someone is a member of the party and supports the points in party manifesto IMO they are not being hypocriticalto stand. In the material I saw for our local elections, there was no mention of farming or vegetarianism
But then again, I am a pragmatist wink

SwishSwoshSwoosh Sat 04-May-13 17:03:49

I think YABU. Living sustainably is not about a single issue or a single right decision on every issue. It is a whole-lifestyle thing. If you have ever measured your carbon footprint, small things like occasional meat consumption make a small difference. Flying even once a year makes a massive difference.

Meat production is an environmental issue but the answer is for everyone to reduce, not simply for green candidates to be vegetarian. It is ok for a green candidate to eat meat.

I would expect all green candidates in western societies to aim for sustainable lifestyles but they are still allowed to have a life, it is pretty hard to achieve zero carbon lifestyle whilst still being alive!

fubbsy Sat 04-May-13 17:45:40

In most areas, the Green Party candidates will know they have no realistic prospect of being elected. If the people want to give up their free time (and probably spend their own money) to go out in public and talk to people about issues they care about, good for them. If they are my political allies, even better, but I still don't expect all my allies to be exactly like me.

StuntGirl Sat 04-May-13 18:35:00

YABU. It's the Green Party not the Vegetarian Party.

loofet Sat 04-May-13 18:45:14

Yanbu. I always find it extremely hypocritical and mildly amusing for anyone to claim to live a green lifestyle and be eco friendly but see no issue tucking into a plate of meat. It isn't the issue of whether it is organic or not, it's the fact meat is one of the largest destroyers of the planet- fact. So yes, I think you should be at least vegetarian but ideally vegan to be standing for the Green party.

Lazyjaney Sat 04-May-13 19:07:37

Prove that all meat is bad for the environment.

A lot of meat is farmed in marginal land, or in and around plants, or it eats plant matter we don't.

What is bad news is intensively farmed meat, but you don't need to be green to know that.

MerylStrop Sat 04-May-13 19:09:51

YABU, these issues are complex as someone upthread pointed out

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 19:19:46

I can't see that covering the land in poly tunnels is environmentally friendly. I don't know what happens to the Lake District fells and the Welsh mountains etc if sheep don't graze. Animals for meat are not all bad.

lljkk Sat 04-May-13 19:22:00

yabu unless you expect 6all^ politicians to be perfect & perfectly consistent in every way.

lljkk Sat 04-May-13 19:22:13

all even (oh the shame)

somewherewest Sat 04-May-13 21:15:16

A friend of mine who is very involved with the Green Party and has run as a city councillor isn't veggie. He eats meat in moderation and tries to ensure that is ethically sourced. I really don't see the issue. Eating meat occasionally isn't destroying the environment - the human race has been eating meat on that basis since forever. Expecting to eat meat in at least one meal if not more every day is the issue.

Permanentlyexhausted Sat 04-May-13 21:56:25

YAB a little U.

A meat-eater consuming pheasant and rabbit that they have shot and chickens they have raised themselves which no longer lay eggs might not be vegetarian but may be living a far more sustainable lifestyle than a non-meat-eater regularly eating bananas and pineapples from distant shores!

UrbaneLandlord Sat 04-May-13 22:55:07

I think it's great if Green Party activists are vegetarian or vegan. Most of the rest of the population, like me, love eating meat and do so whenever they want.

Whilst they want a basic level of welfare for farm animals, what's really important is that meat is cheap, plentiful, fresh, tasty, not too much fat & gristle and that all the inedible bits have been removed. After all, they're only animals (and do taste very nice!).

The more that Green Party activists are perceived to be a bunch of angst-ridden weirdo tree-huggers then the less they'll be elected and have influence. In this way, the rest of us can get on with our lives; made more pleasurable by lots of lovely meat to eat!

I think I've eaten 5 different types of meat in the last few days. To Ermentrude, Napoleon, Larry, Foghorn Leghorn and Nemo I say "Thanks guys for laying down your lives so I could have a really nice meal. You tasted really great!"

LarvalFormOfOddSock Sun 05-May-13 00:34:08

YABVU. So many aspects of modern life are "un-green". I don't understand why you've singled out vegetarianism (unless you're one yourself and therefore feel a bit superior to everyone else and assume everyone else ought to be just like you. Could be wrong though).
Does the person: Take public transport?
Eat locally produced veg?
Have an insulated home?
Use only the best rated electrical appliances?
Wear only fair-trade produced clothing?
Wash at 30 degrees?
Bank with an ethical bank?
Switch their lights off?
Re-use plastic bags?
Re-use waste water?
Have a compost bin?
Shower for less than 5 minutes?
Turn their thermostat down?
The list could go on for ever....

LastMangoInParis Sun 05-May-13 00:43:04


Eating meat often = v bad, especially if animals badly treated/farmed (obviously).
Eating responsibly farmed meat q occasionally = not bad at all; quite a good idea, in fact, sustains farming, breeding, welfare etc. of livestock that would otherwise exist only as show animals (or not at all). And what to do with all those deer that have to be culled every year, if not eat them?

No wonder parties are finding it harder and harder to get people to stand on their behalf. Even their eating habits are being judged and picked apart hmm

MiniMonty Sun 05-May-13 03:01:38

You are being stupidly Unreasonable (and utterly naiive).

The green party is a political party - not a veggie hippy fest.
Do you live in a yurt on an isolated hillside?
In which you eat all the newspapers that you buy?
Do you wipe your arse with all those books you own?

We're omnivores babe (purpose built to EAT MEAT) ask your dentist...

TeddyBare Sun 05-May-13 08:07:37

To me this would be like a socialist party representative with children at private schools. Being veggie is a normal mainstream lifestyle choice which helps the environment. Of course if you only eat roadkill etc then meat eating doesn't impact on the environment, but that's definitely a more niche eating habit than being veggie, and it's not what this guy was doing. I expect politicians to live by what they preach because if they had their way they'd expect everyone else to be living by it too.

exoticfruit what's the environmental problem with poly tunnels? The only argument I've ever heard against them is that they're ugly. That's not an environmental argument.
Monty did I accidentally wander into netmums? I don't think I've ever been called "babe" before. I live a fairly normal life and take reasonable steps to try to ensure that my dc and their dc still have a world to live on. I care about green issues and I expect the leaders of green movements to care about them (and act on them) too.

stargirl1701 Sun 05-May-13 08:10:45

Landlord. I certainly do not wish for meat to be cheap and plentiful. I want it to be expensive. I want very high welfare standards. If we choose to eat animals, it behooves us to treat them with the highest regard.

maddening Sun 05-May-13 10:11:21

There are ethically sourced meats available though and farming in general impacts the environment - whole swathes of rainforest are destroyed to plant crops so surely it matters not whether they eat meat or vegetable based diets but that they ensure that the food they eat is produced with limited environmental impact.

Green Party policies
"The Green Party will pursue a resilient local and global food supply to ensure everyone has access to a sufficient diet of nutritious, safe and affordable food. We will support farming and local growing practices that protect the land and wider environment, support decent jobs, provide healthy food and respect animal welfare. We will support a European ban on genetically modified food."

Nothing here about being veggie or vegan ...

Lazyjaney Sun 05-May-13 10:32:05

"Being veggie is a normal mainstream lifestyle choice which helps the environment"

Utter bollocks

Normal - no it isn't, humans are designed to be omnivorous
Mainstream - no, vegetarianism is a minority choice
Helps the environment - most meat is still produced on marginal land, or fed with farming byproducts, so is efficiently using resources.

Urban veggies' demands for ever more exotic out of season and alternative foods has meant spending a lot of energy spent processing,home delivering, or even flying low energy value/weight food, a monumental green fuck up

lljkk Sun 05-May-13 14:29:56

Depends on the meat; Most beef is produced by feeding cattle grain and hay, consumers don't like the yellow look of grass-fed beef (I would LOVE to buy mostly grass-fed beef, has it been marketed anywhere?). Takes a huge amount of grain to get one kg of beef (read Diet for a Small Planet).

Chickens are also overwhelmingly grain-fed. Including the egg producing ones.

Pigs are fairly inefficient, too, and their poo is a massive waste problem. The days when you could throw pigs old scraps are over, their food has to conform to high standards, now.

Lamb comes from marginal land use. It's the only meat I can think that fits LazyJaney's description.

Wishiwasanheiress Sun 05-May-13 14:32:14

Personally yes u are bu. I really think there are bigger fish to fry in a green sense. Ur literal I suppose, but that's about it!

Salbertina Sun 05-May-13 14:34:30


TeddyBare Sun 05-May-13 16:28:04

Lazy "Normal - no it isn't, humans are designed to be omnivorous
Mainstream - no, vegetarianism is a minority choice
Helps the environment - most meat is still produced on marginal land, or fed with farming byproducts, so is efficiently using resources. "

I don't believe humans are designed for anything. Assuming what you actually meant was evolved, I still don't see why that's relevant. Humans evolved to walk and run everywhere but that isn't a reason to oppose wheels. Do you have a fridge? Food production and preparation has developed so much that it's disingenuous to pretend it's all about how we evolved. The simple fact is that it is possible to have a healthy fully balanced diet without eating meat.
Mainstream does not require the majority. According to wikipedia 4.8% of the people in the UK are Muslim but no one disputes that it's a mainstream religion here. According to MN wisdom 10% of children go to private school in the UK and that's still a mainstream educational choice. Between 7 and 11% of people are veggie (an actual academic article: It's wrong to claim it's not mainstream.
As for helping the environment, there is plenty of research to prove that. Even this one ( which was trying to suggest that eating meat is better for the environment concludes that this study is predicated on the fact that all resources are sourced locally. No mini filet mignon from Argentina allowed! The analysis also requires that meat is produced by grazing alone. No corn-heavy feed lots allowed either. So until those two food supply issues are sorted, or you live near a wonderful old-fashioned farm that produces a little of everything, going green on your plate is still the best way to save the environment with your fork

Salbertina Sun 05-May-13 17:09:22

That's bollocks - we are omnivores just as we are male or female. Vegetarianism is a lifestyle choice.

Lazyjaney Sun 05-May-13 18:28:24

"I don't believe humans are designed for anything"

Very fortunately for humanity, belief is no longer the main way of deciding what is true.

And if less than 10% is population doing something is in your view "mainstream", I do wonder what your definition of "minority" and "niche" is.

And clearly given those are your starting positions, pretty much everything that follows from it is going to be somewhat whacko erroneous.

2rebecca Sun 05-May-13 18:36:21

I'm a green party member and I'm omnivorous. I go for free range often organic meat (usually) and prefer local meat. I agree with others that many hilly areas where sheep are aren't fit for much else and not up to grain production.
I think intensive animal rearing is horrible but think a country with no chickens and sheep just acres of grain fields would be rather sad. I love seeing lambs in the spring (but hate the fact that many farmers lamb too early).
To me buying local food and cycling, not flying alot, not commuting huge distances, not living in a 4 bedroom house if there are only 2 of you, not having a 4 wheel drive car unless you're a farmer are more important.
I know a few vegetarians rattling round huge houses and flying alot.
It's not the vegetarian party, and if the green party and SGP are to be anything other than minority pressure groups they have to have policies that alot of the population can identify with.

Salbertina Sun 05-May-13 18:39:23

Rebecca- you'd have my vote grin
Applaud all those values as being essentially "green"

Salbertina Sun 05-May-13 18:40:01

Sorry misread that as "candidate"

2rebecca Sun 05-May-13 18:49:58

I have stood as a candidate. If some people chose not to vote for me because I'm not vegetarian then that's democracy, they can choose a vegetarian Tory if they wish.

Takver Sun 05-May-13 19:02:34

OP, have you read Simon Fairlie's book "Meat: A benign extravagance", and also his articles on the topic of "Can Britain Feed Itself"

Would you say it is better to eat the products of a stockless farm which is largely dependent on imported fertility, or a mixed farm where there are few external inputs?

And indeed, am I being environmentally unsustainable if I trap or shoot the rabbits that are trying to eat my crops, and make them into pie. I'd argue that in this latter case at least it is hard to identify a more environmentally neutral source of protein in Britain.

Its a far more complex topic than 'meat bad, veggie good'. And that is speaking as someone who has spent more time than most people would consider reasonable reading about / experimenting with vegan-organic growing (because we don't have a reliable source of muck, and we don't want to keep stock for various reasons).

I lived for many years in an environmentally focussed land based community. It was notable that (I think 100%) all the people there who came from a town background were veggie, and none of those who came from a rural / farming background. Most of the latter ate little meat, and were very aware of where it came from, but they weren't veggie.

I'm not a green party candidate, though, and never likely to be grin

lljkk Sun 05-May-13 20:22:01

I love a good rabbit pie, me.

Salbertina Sun 05-May-13 20:25:36

Am a complete hypocrite and one of those who'll happily eat rabbit so long as i think it's chicken or some such. At least i realise!

Takver Sun 05-May-13 20:32:12

Rabbit and half-nibbled leek pie - the quintessential Welsh smallholder dish . . .

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