Professor Louise Fresco, the keynote speaker of this year’s City Food Lecture, claimed that giving up meat is not the answer to the climate change crisis, before calling for more to be done on tackling global food waste.

As part of her lecture entitled ‘Fish nor flesh or both? Foods for the future’, the Dutch scientist, academic and broadcaster addressed over 700 people at the Guildhall in London, saying: “In future, we will not eat meat every day, but doing away with meat and animals completely would be the wrong choice – from a human health point of view, from the point of view of the use of our environment, and from the point of view of equity.

“If you ask millennials, eating meat, and to a lesser extent fish, is the wrong thing to do, something they don’t want to be associated with. They want to be flexitarians, they want to be vegetarians, or they want to be vegans.

“But there are very large parts of the world that we cannot use for crops, and what we now know for the first time, is that grasslands [used for grazing] are probably the best possible way for us humans to capture carbon and leave it in the soil.”

“As much as 500 calories per person, per day, are leftover, lost, or damaged…”

Fresco proceeded to highlight the severity of food waste and called for efforts to help reduce the amount of food that goes uneaten: “As much as 500 calories per person, per day, are leftover, lost, or damaged from what is grown in the field to what comes on the plate. That is an enormous amount of food. If we could use that at least by feeding animals, that then provide us with other nutrients, we are already a lot better off.”

The lecture was followed by a panel debate chaired by Chris White, managing director of Fruitnet Media and featuring Andrew Thompson, European, Middle East & Africa director of Genus plc, a world-leading animal genetics company, Baroness Rosie Boycott, a journalist and former chair of the London Food Board and Ian Wright, the chief executive of the Food & Drink Federation.