The UK needs to cut its poultry and pigmeat consumption by 75% if it is going to meet targets to cut carbon emissions.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, said consumers needed to eat less meat if the UK had any chance of feeding itself in an environmentally-sustainable way.

“It’s ludicrous and stupid not to talk about consumption when we’re talking about environmental sustainability,” Lord Melchett told delegates during a break-out session at the organisation’s conference in Birmingham on Wednesday (3 February).

“We need to be looking at eating three-quarters less poultry and pig meat in this country.

“We need to have less animals, or alternatively more grassland animals who help keep carbon in the ground through what they eat, offsetting their methane production.”

Lord Melchett said grass-fed beef and lamb actually had a positive impact on climate change, if it was extensively grazed and nitrogen fertilisers were avoided.

Arguing the further benefits of organic production, he said research carried out on his organic Norfolk farm had found his soil contained 30% more organic matter than his neighbour’s conventionally-farmed land.

See also: Soil Association calls for ‘radical changes’ in farming

Lesson to be learned from organic farmers