The BBC children's show Blue Peter faced backlash for encouraging its young viewers to stop eating meat for the planet.The programme dropped anti-meat message to children from its Blue Peter green badge initiative after receiving a furious response from British farmers.
The popular children’s show launched an environmental challenge called Climate Heroes and offered the green version of its iconic blue badges for kids who demonstrated they were “climate heroes” by making a pledge to stop using plastic, save energy or reduce eating meat.
Blue Peter presenter Mwaksy Mudenda said during the show: "Green team have added a supersize pledge. Together you can either switch off all lights and devices when leaving a room.Swap disposable plastic bottles for reusable ones or choose a meat-free meal."
Environmentalist Matthew Shribma who took part in the show, added: “Scientists have recently worked out that eating meat is one of the biggest things causing climate change. Reducing the amount of meat you eat, especially beef and lamb, is known to be even better for the climate than reducing the amount you travel in a car.”
The show's website says children who take part in the green badge initiative would be "reducing plastic pollution and boosting biodiversity - true climate hero behaviour". It reads: “Choose a plant-based meal – that means no meat, chicken or fish. The Blue Peter Climate Heroes calculation works out the difference between eating plant-based and meat-based meals over two weeks. It compares the carbon footprint of one red meat and one chicken dish and hopes you swap eight meals across two weeks – especially at school lunches where plant-based meals are an option. There’s an even bigger saving if you swap your evening meal.”
The climate friendly initiative was blasted by the farmers who forced BBC to drop the meat-free idea.
One of the farmers, father-of-three who runs a farm of sheep in Wales, posted a video on social media saying: “I’m very disappointed, as a farmer and a father. In this country we have got grass, and grass can be produced very easily on land where you cannot grow crops. And this land will produce some of the top quality proteins: beef and lamb. And it’s done in a sustainable, regenerative and very environmentally-friendly way.
“Why aren’t we telling our children this?”
The initiative also sparked an angry reaction from Neil Shand, the CEO of the National Beef Association who sent a letter to BBC calling the broadcaster Beef Bashing Corporation.
The BBC was forced to amend the list of activities children must obtain to become climate heroes and now recommends a few vegetarians options instead of ditching meat completely.
A BBC spokesperson told The Independent: “We are not asking Blue Peter viewers to give up meat. That was made clear both on the show and on our website which has been updated to reflect that buying seasonal food or local grass-fed meat can also make a difference to climate change.
“There are also other pledge options to choose from to earn a Green badge such as switching off lights or using reusable water bottles.”
Food production is responsible for one-quarter of global greenhouse emissions and uses half of the world's land. Livestock farming in particular has the biggest impact on the damage of the land.
According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation, meat and dairy production accounts for nearly 15% of global greenhouse emissions. The special report on climate change and land by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change marks reducing meat consumption and switching to plant-based diets as “a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change.”