To be frank, I have never attempted something like this before. I am unsure of where to begin.
May I be completely truthful? If you hear these words spoken in your documentary, pause. Rewind. Delete everything. Simply discard it. It is not sufficient. You deserve better than this careless and disrespectful approach to creating a program. Especially at this point in time, it is imperative.
Let The Big British Beef Battle, presented by the normally excellent Ade Adepitan, be the last of these pointless hour-long pieces of drivel that waste the time of everyone involved – and everyone who sits before it expecting to be informed, enlightened or entertained.
Adepitan seems to have been motivated by the urgency of the climate crisis to take action. Throughout the program, one may question if his lack of quality can be attributed to his newfound passion and his hope that his enthusiasm would be enough to make a difference. However, this does not improve the overall outcome.
It’s unfortunate. Some statistics have been gathered: 25% of the typical British person’s carbon footprint is due to their food consumption. Of that percentage, 58% is caused by the consumption of meat. The production of beef results in 10 times more emissions of greenhouse gases than raising chickens does. The methane emitted by the billion cows on Earth is 28 times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than CO2.2
The destruction of forests and rainforests to make room for cattle and crops like soy and corn, which are the main source of food for these animals, is a major issue. Therefore, the most impactful change an individual can make to help the environment is to cut beef out of their diet.
Adepitan expresses a desire for the UK to give up beef consumption. However, this is a challenge as beef is deeply ingrained in British culture and has been for a long time. Advertisements are used to reinforce this tradition. Adepitan hopes to change this cultural norm and suggests using stickers with slogans such as “Say no to beef. Chicken has significantly lower carbon emissions than beef” and “Say no to beef. Beef is contributing to the destruction of our planet.” He believes these slogans are concise and impactful, but they may not be effective in terms of marketing or messaging. Despite this, he takes it upon himself to put the stickers on meat products at a supermarket, leading to him being removed by security. This instance highlights the frustration of ordinary people just trying to do their jobs being criticized on shows like this, which is something the author strongly dislikes and believes should be avoided.
If the stickers fail to have a positive effect (as they may actually bother others), it may be beneficial for Adepitan to have a brief interview with an expert in communicating about climate crisis, George Marshall. Marshall suggests that Adepitan should seek out a group of individuals who he can motivate and who may, through the influence of group identity and peer pressure, adopt more sustainable behaviors.
Adepitan discovers a toilet paper manufacturing facility in Manchester where the head chef, Rob Evans, uses 35kg of beef every month to feed numerous employees. In a questionable attempt at humor, Adepitan uses a megaphone to urge the diners to refrain from consuming beef due to its negative impact on the environment.
What should we think about this? Is Adepitan truly this unintelligent? Do the creators of the program believe their viewers are truly this unintelligent? Has anyone on this dying planet actually considered that this is an effective method for creating immediate or lasting changes in someone’s behavior? Unless you consider physically assaulting someone who is yelling at you through a megaphone to be a form of “momentary change.”
Returning to Marshall, we have some additional important advice. The finale includes a seemingly inspiring but actually senseless social experiment and the credits roll. As you reflect, you wonder what the purpose of it all was. You hope that perhaps through supplementary articles and interviews, or any other material besides the actual program, some awareness of the issue will be brought to light.
Channel 4 is currently airing The Big British Beef Battle.