Tories criticise Minister for suggesting people only eat meat on ‘high days and holidays’
The Tories have criticised the Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change for suggesting people should only eat meat on “high days and holidays”.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Rural Affairs Minister Sam Kurtz accused Labour’s Julie James of showing a “complete lack of understanding of meat as part of a balanced diet”, and its importance for the agricultural economy.
James, a lifelong vegetarian, made the suggestion while discussing Welsh Government’s plan to tackle climate change and increase biodiversity by planting more trees.
Plans to encourage more trees to be planted in Wales have recently come under fire for “destroying communities” in rural areas.
Large-scale investment companies have been buying farms across the country for afforestation – planting trees to offset carbon emissions, and there are concerns that this could damage local culture, language and heritage.
The Welsh Government says it is going to launch a consultation on its National Forest plan.
Julie James told WalesOnline: “Not all of the uplands in Wales should be forested. Some of them should be but many are upland peat for example, they shouldn’t have trees on them and have other forms of biodiversity. We have to enhance each part of the landscape to its best possible biodiversity.
“That can absolutely be done but we have to move to a sustainable farming scheme as much as possible and people have to think about the way that they eat. They have to think about the way that they use the planet’s resources.
“Personally I’m a lifelong vegetarian but there is nothing wrong with eating meat but we just have to be eating it as a high days and holidays type of thing.”
Responding, Welsh Conservative Shadow Rural Affairs Minister Sam Kurtz MS said: “The Minister’s comments show a complete lack of understanding of the importance of meat as part of a balanced diet and how it underpins our agricultural and rural economy.
“Farming is the backbone of the Welsh economy, creating tens of thousands of jobs from the field through the supply chain to high street butchers, but these comments show the industry is expendable to the Labour Government.
“Tackling climate change needs public support and economic sense. Understanding this and working with the sector and not against, is the only way positive progress can be made.”
John Thomas sold Frongoch Farm in Carmarthenshire’s Cothi Valley when he retired three years ago, after living and working on for nearly 70 years.
He says he hoped the new owners would take care of his family home in Cwrt y Cadno and safeguard it for future generations of farmers.
However, earlier this year it was resold to a multi-national investment company called Foresight Group, based at the Shard in London.
Thomas told BBC Wales that it was “breaking my heart” to see his childhood home become one of many sold to “huge, faceless companies in England” for planting trees.
“I feel very sad about it – I feel quite angry actually,” he said.
“It shouldn’t be allowed to happen on such a big scale. It’s shameful that they should be allowed to do this.
“They’re sacrificing Welsh land for the benefit of the rich in England.”