Top British Lawyer Says Eating Meat & “Ecocide” Could Be Illegal In The Future

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A leading English barrister has recently voiced out that the government should implement stricter laws to make illegal activities that destroy the environment – including the consumption of meat. Scientists across the world agree that the world urgently needs to reduce carbon emissions in order to avert climate disaster, and animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gases and mass ecological degradation. 

Michael Mansfield QC, the head of chambers at Nexus Chambers and dubbed “the king of human rights work” by The Legal 500 has said that the consumption of meat could be banned in the future due to its massive environmental impact. Mansfield went further even, suggested regulation was needed.

It is time for a new law on ecocide to go alongside genocide and the other crimes against humanity,” said Mansfield, adding that there are already “plenty of things that were once commonplace that are now illegal, such as smoking inside.”

Citing a United Nations report that finds that the meat and dairy production companies rank amongst the top 3,000 companies that are responsible for US$2.2 trillion worth of environmental damage, the leading barrister says that it is clear that governments must enact legislation relating to meat consumption in order to combat the climate crisis. 

I think when we look at the damage eating meat is doing to the planet it is not preposterous to think that one day it will become illegal,” he explained.

According to the United Nations, the global livestock industry drives 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, a major cause of global heating. Industrial animal agriculture also relies on fossil fuels to manufacture fertiliser and power machinery to harvest animal feed and transport animals. In a study conducted by nonprofits Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and GRAIN, researchers found that meat and dairy companies could overtake the oil industry as the world’s largest polluters by 2050

Aside from contributing enormous amounts of carbon emissions, animal agriculture is also responsible for water contamination and wastage and high land-use that incentivises deliberate deforestation, driving mass biodiversity loss. 

The director of British animal welfare organisation Viva agreed with Mansfield’s comments, saying: “30 years ago people didn’t bat an eyelid if you lit a cigarette in a pub or restaurant. But now society accepts smoking is harmful and totally unnecessary and so we legislated against it. The same could happen with eating meat.”

Given the huge environmental cost of meat consumption, scientists and experts have called for a dramatic change in the current food system. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that on our current trajectory, the planet will no longer be able to sustain humanity. The report called on a global shift towards plant-based in order to avert total climate collapse. 

Similar recommendations were echoed by the experts at the EAT-Lancet commission, who drew up guidelines for a “planetary health diet.” The diet envisages a dramatic reduction in meat consumption alongside a doubling in plant-based foods such as grains, vegetables, fruits, pulses and nuts. 

Lead image courtesy of Matthew Lloyd / Getty Images / Clipart / designed by Green Queen Media.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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