Meat eating is good for the countryside.One of Britain’s leading authorities on climate change recently called on the public to eat less meat to help save the planet.Lord Stern of Brentford, author of the influential 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, said eating meat would soon become ‘socially unacceptable’ due to its carbon footprint. To be precise he said: “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.”I could not disagree more.If an individual wants to choose not to eat meat for personal reasons, fine. But for a senior scientist to victimise British livestock farmers and to encourage consumers to boycott British meat and dairy products is irresponsible.Lord Stern’s comments were simplistic and threaten to harm the British livestock industry for no good reason. He failed to recognise that Britain’s 80,000 livestock farmers have a fantastic track record of tackling greenhouse gas emissions – agricultural emissions have fallen 17 per cent since 1990. He failed to appreciate that a decline in domestic production would lead to more imports from countries with a greater carbon footprint. And he failed to understand that grazing British livestock maintain their natural environment. More than 60 per cent of British agricultural land is grassland and much of it, particularly the hills and uplands, is unsuitable for other crops. Grazing livestock not only provide the majority of the country’s dairy products and red meat, but they also manage grassland landscapes, maintain biodiversity and play a vital role in locking up carbon dioxide. Without livestock farming, this would all be lost and our wonderful British countryside would fall into disrepair. The West Country would be the biggest sufferer. It is not just for the sake of the environment that we need livestock either. Grass fed meat and dairy are important sources of protein and calcium and formulate a vital part of a healthy diet.