Readers' letters: How can Edinburgh City Council simply ditch meat and dairy?

I was dismayed by your front page of 26 January (“City cracking down on eating meat”). The timing was particularly odd as we have just celebrated Burns Night – a salute to our Bard, but also to our seasonal food produced locally and celebrated globally.
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What strikes me as particularly worrying is the growing narrative that meat and dairy are the main driver of our climate emergency, with the Plant Based Treaty presented as the “solution” to our environmental woes.

As an industry we are only too aware of our responsibility to cut carbon emissions and our sector is driving forward many innovative ways in which to achieve this, while protecting consumers right to choose what they eat.

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The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland is a membership organisation made up of 16,000 farmers and rural people. We are concerned that the simplistic view that a shift to plant-based diets would significantly reduce the city’s consumption-based emissions.

Burns Night celebrates seasonal food produced locallyBurns Night celebrates seasonal food produced locally
Burns Night celebrates seasonal food produced locally

What this evidence fails to consider is that 80 per cent of Scottish land is grass or rough grazing which is not suitable for crops but ideal for livestock. Furthermore, grass grazed by livestock absorbs carbon from the atmosphere and captures it in the soil. The inconvenient truth is the way red meat is produced in Scotland is not directly comparable to international red meat production systems, but we are simply not being listened to.

It is our view that council and city leaders have a duty to ensure that evidence used to contribute towards decision-making is evidenced and balanced. Rather than cancelling red meat consumption altogether, sould the council not be taking the socially and economically responsible approach of sourcing locally-produced products? Locally-produced red meat has less impact on the environment and has great local economic impact than a globally-produced avocado.

We appreciate this is a complex matter and would extend an invitation to decision-makers to come and meet our farmers and their representatives and let’s thrash out a better solution that unites rather than divides us by what we choose to eat.

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Edinburgh may seem far removed from rural Scotland, but the decisions taken here will have far-reaching economic and social implications. Let’s not forget the Royal Highland Show contributes £39.5 million to the city’s economy each year, that’s more than Hogmanay. It is ironic to think that the world’s most respected agricultural show could be held in a city that actively discourages meat and dairy farming!

Alan Laidlaw, chief executive, Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland

Find the money to save the King’s

Reading about the plight of the King’s Theatre and recently of the sad demise of The Filmhouse, I experienced a strong feeling of deja vu.

When I became Convenor of Culture on Edinburgh District Council, back in the olden days, there was a similar malaise in funding for the arts.

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It occurred to me then that if Edinburgh was to retain its valued reputation as an International Festival City, it was imperative that the city’s decayed theatres were upgraded and refurbished; including the Lyceum, the King’s Theatre and the Traverse.

Funding was also allocated for the building of The City Arts Centre, and necessary funds were given towards constructing the now defunct Filmhouse. The Queen’s Hall was formed from an old church. Money was found to enhance the inadequate coffers of Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera, the latter being championed by the late Councillor Derek MacLennan.

Where there is a political will there is a way. In those days local authorities had autonomy and the ability to dig deep for funding when required. The Scottish Parliament did not exist.

Jane Bell, Cardrona, Scottish Borders

Write to the Edinburgh Evening News

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