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Tuesday
Aug052008

Turning veggie....

I was watching a commentator on Bloomberg TV talk about the rise in food prices. It is apparently, at least in part, being driven by a large scale diet shift across the developing world described as "the move to protein". Beef and other meats are becoming a much larger proportion of the human diet.

Raising animals for food is basically an inefficient use of grain compared to direct consumption of grain. This reduces the supply of grain driving its price upwards. It also requires increased industrialisation of farming which uses that key limited resource, oil driving its price upwards too. Animal flatulence, I am not sure expected to use that phrase in a blog, is apparently a major contributor to green house gases driving climate change. Assuming we accept that climate change is happening then we are all paying for every disaster and for every measure to reduce it.

I believe that the move to protein is hitting me in the pocket right now and is also hitting every one else. I could talk about about helping starving people who can't afford food, I could talk about the damaged world we are leaving our children, I could talk about the health benefits of lower meat intake.. However, I thought the appeal to the wallet may have more impact - a sad conclusion perhaps.

A high protein diet is, I believe, a largely western fashion. As countries around the world become richer, we export our fashions to get a cut of their increased wealth. The great thing about fashion is that it is controlled by the customer. The marketer makes a proposition, but we choose to buy or not. The Internet gives us the opportunity to deliver counter marketing and democratize the buying process.

Part of the answer to our reduced buying power and climate change is to reverse the move to protein. And the answer is in our hands. We can set an alternative fashion that is less about meat. Smaller steaks, quarter pounders not half pounders, or even turn veggie...

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