Richard Branson gives up beef

Jul 14, 2014

Branson gets an unexpected invite to tour beef cattle farms in Canada

By Amanda Brodhagen,

Virgin Group billionaire Richard Branson announced on his blog recently that he’s decided to eliminate red meat, in particular beef, from his diet.

He explains that his decision was made out of concern for the environment, citing statistics around meat consumption contributing to factors such as global warming and environmental degradation.

“It’s estimated that 14.5% of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock – which is more than the contribution from all forms of transport. Beef production makes up 41% of those emissions,” Branson wrote.

While he is critical of cattle production, he cites Earth Challenge finalist Allan Savory, who has proven that when livestock are managed properly can even restore degraded land.

He goes on to discuss alternatives to conventionally raised meat, including scientific advancements in producing synthetic meat and eating insects as sources of protein.

“Reducing our consumption would reduce the need for these industries to keep up with that demand,” he said.

Branson not only shares his non-beef eating journey with his fans, but concludes his post by challenging his meat eating readers to consider cutting beef out of their diet. He poses the question “do you think you could cut out beef from your diet, or are you already vegetarian/vegan? Let us know your views.”

Branson invited to see cattle production in Canada

Of the 200 plus comments under Brandson’s blog, one stuck out, it was an offer for him to come see what cattle production is like firsthand.

The comment was posted by Fawn Jackson, Manager of Environmental Affairs at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), where she invites Mr. Branson to tour cattle ranches in Canada.

Interestingly, Branson admitted in his blog that beef was previously one of his favorite foods, a remark that Jackson picked up on.

“I think that you would be interested in the work by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef that are working on the definition of sustainable beef so that you can enjoy one of your favourite meals again!” she wrote.

Jackson makes an attempt to debunk the notion that cattle production is bad for the environment. She said, “while we recognize that beef production (as all foods) have an impact on the environment, the solution to that isn't so black and white. Yes, cows produce methane, however the grasslands where they live, can also sequester as much carbon as a temperate forest.”

She goes on to explain that beef production can help maintain and protect grassland ecosystems, adding that grasslands are one of the most endangered types of ecosystems in the world.

“Instead of taking beef out of your diet you could try to source beef that fits your personal interests/values whether that be grass fed, wildlife friendly, or carbon neutral,” she suggests.

Jackson says Mr. Branson is welcome to come visit beef cattle farms in Canada.

“We invite you to come and see firsthand what cattle production looks like on the ground to perhaps offer another perspective on beef production.”

Will Branson take her up on the offer?

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