IT was a battle between Meat-Free Monday and Give Meat a Chance in the European Parliament.
Beatles star Paul McCartney jetted in between concerts to give MEPs a lesson in reducing greenhouse gases and saving the planet.
But Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness and the IFA’s Padraig Walshe were not convinced.
Battling for Ireland’s biggest export, prime beef, they accused Macca of living in a yellow submarine and thinking they were nothing more than fools on the hill.
Hoarse from his three-hour long concert in Hamburg, the mega-star laid out the facts as he saw them.
nLivestock produces 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases – more than the whole transport sector.
nCattle belch methane that is 20 times worse than CO2 and nitrous oxide that is 300 times worse than carbon.
n70% of agricultural land is given over to raising meat and producing one burger uses as much water as a four-hour long shower.
nA third of cereal goes to feeding animals.
“This is no longer a personal choice. Climate change is affecting the whole planet. Farmers must adapt to new practices and the first step for us all is a meat-free day”, the 67-year-old vegetarian said.
Cutting out meat just one day a week would save as much greenhouse gas as a thousand-mile car trip, he added.
But leader of Copa, the largest farmers group in the EU, Padraig Walshe, accused Mr McCartney of getting his facts wrong.
“He is making no allowance for the fact that the grassland on which cattle feed is a carbon sink, soaking up huge amounts of the greenhouse gas – all of which would be released if it was to be ploughed up to grow vegetables,” he said.
He said the singer was preaching to the wrong people – Europeans eat an average of 15kg of meat a year compared with 50kg for Americans and 80kg for Argentinians.
Farming expert Mairead McGuinness was also critical of Mr McCartney for not staying at the conference to hear the contrary views and skipping the specially prepared, meat-free lunch for the participants.
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