Al Jazeera’s feature, “Food economics: What if the world went vegan?”

Counting The Cost on Al Jazeera last week was devoted entirely to food and it’s economic consequences. The tag line for the episode was based on the headline feature in the episode, “Food economics: What if the world went vegan?”

Al Jazeera Counting the Cost

The premise of the feature is following the recent report by the Oxford Martin Programme at Oxford University. Published on March 21st, the news release of the report was titled on the Oxford Martin website:-

“Plant-based diets could save millions of lives and dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

This was backed up by the first paragraph on the Oxford Martin website making the statements:-

“A global switch to diets that rely less on meat and more on fruit and vegetables could save up to 8 million lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, and lead to healthcare-related savings and avoided climate damages of $1.5 trillion (US) , Oxford Martin School researchers have found.”

They are pretty striking stats. 8 million people is a lot of people. US$1.5 trillion is serious, serious cash by any benchmark. This is an incomprehensible sum to most people. The Oxford Martin report was given quite widespread news coverage. Al Jazeera are to be commended for headlining an episode of Counting The Cost with a feature based on the Oxford Martin report. The episode is certainly worth a watch just for this part of the broadcast alone. It is also another example of vegetarianism including veganism increasingly being mainstream news. The episode was presented by the always capable Kamahl Santamaria.

Dr Marco Springmann

Dr Marco Springmann

In this Counting the Cost episode the show includes an interview with the leader of this particular Oxford Martin study, Dr Marco Springmann. Much of Dr Springmann’s comments are interesting to say the least. There are also some elements of what Dr Springmann says that seem questionable. For example when Kamahl Santamaria asked a question containing the comment, “A lot of people say it’s the corporates who really run the world in the end, not the governments or the people…”

Dr Springmann replied, “Corporates rank very much to frameworks that governments put in place so once government decides to go for regulation A on B, industry will adapt…”

There must be plenty people out there who would question Dr Springmann’s answer in the era of:-

  • super highly financed and super highly resourced corporate lobbyists
  • political stooges in critical roles to do the bidding of the corporations

For those unaware there are thought provoking insights into the food industry and political lobbying in movies such as:-

The links at the above two bullet points are to the trailers for each respective movie.

Feel free to see which parts of this Counting the Cost episode you agree and disagree with.

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