Who watched TVNZ1’s Q+A on Monday 29th July? If you did, you would have heard the very charming Professor Frederic Leroy charmingly deny that he receives money from the meat industry for speaking up for meat.
Currently in New Zealand as a guest of Beef+Lamb NZ, and as a speaker at the red meat conference this week in Christchurch, he claims that he does it for love. Or, in his words “as an academic, and because I feel I have to do it”. It appears that the poor meat industry – paragon of virtue that it is – is suffering from the effects of unscientific propaganda, and he’s just trying to set the record straight out of altruism.
I googled Professor Frederic Leroy to find out a little more about him, and the first page of Google gave me three hits of him speaking at conferences related to the meat and dairy industries within the last year –
Euromeat in Sept 2018
International Dairy Federation in June 2019
Beef+Lamb NZ in July 2019
On page three of Google, I discover that he is currently the president of the Belgian Association of Meat Science and Technology.
He certainly seems to be devoted to his mission of enlightening the world about the bad rap meat and dairy get, whilst “not getting paid for it”. A true missionary! After all, airfares and accommodation to places where he will give a talk, and then is free to do what he likes, is not like being paid cash. Plus, possible grants and funding for the organisations he is a part of – e.g. Vrije University Brussels, Belgium, where Professor Leroy is a professor of Food Science and Biotechnology; and BAMST – don’t go directly into his pocket. Although, he also denies that he, or any organisation he is part of, receives any funding. With this kind of selfless dedication, I wish he was a Vegan.
I’m not exactly sure how a professor of food science and biotechnology gets to be more knowledgeable than the United Nations (as well as our own Dr Mike Joy) and the World Health Organisation about the effects of livestock on the environment, and the health risks associated with meat consumption, but he does spin a good yarn – and in such a pleasant, charming way, too. Apparently, Vegans are also just spinning a good yarn, though. He says it’s disingenuous of Vegans to pick on the worst intensive farming operations to highlight animal cruelty – completely blowing on past that this is how animal agriculture is trending – and that vegan messages and slogans are “spectacular” and “distortions”, and there’s no science behind them.
It’s true that we as individuals can be misinformed, believe well-presented half-truths, and be swayed by catchy slogans – no different to the majority of non-vegans – but to claim that there’s no science behind veganism is to totally discredit organisations like PCRM, who have research supporting all their published articles. Maybe Professor Leroy hasn’t heard of them yet?
You know, it’s not really meat, either, that’s bad for health, it’s “mostly lifestyle effects”, according the good professor. “Take the Innuit, for example, they ate a high meat diet, but never showed ill effects of that, until they began consuming a more Western-style diet.” Sigh. This was being challenged and questioned as far back as five years ago (probably more). Keep up Fred.
Neither are carbon emissions from animal agriculture as bad as we’ve been led to believe, as per his interview for the Otago Daily Times and NZ Herald. Using the classic deflection method, he suggests we should be more worried about fossil fuels. Of the four things an individual can do to substantially reduce their footprint on the earth – eat a plant-based diet; avoid air travel; have fewer, or no, children; live car-free – adopting a plant-based diet is probably the easiest. The people at the top of the meat corporations aren’t stupid, and they will have identified that pretty damn quick. Fossil fuels are a much bigger baddie, we’re told, so encouraging us to turn our evil Eye of Mordor towards that is good for meat.
Who knows if Professor Frederic Leroy really is as charming and inoffensive as he comes across? He may well be. His love affair with the meat industry and subsequent support may be based on pure intentions. However, it doesn’t make him right; it doesn’t eliminate the likelihood of self-interest; and it doesn’t mean that he isn’t a determined Anti-Vegan. It does make him a damn good, credible, and very personable spokesperson, though, for those who want to believe his story, and for those who don’t know how to see through his rhetoric. It’s common PR to put the best person forward to sway public perception, and even though he’s “not being paid”, he’s worth what’s being spent on him.
In the end. though, he’s just another meat industry shill.
Watch the interview on Q+A here, which begins around 36 minutes into the programme (available until 25th August):
Articles in Otago Daily Times and NZ Herald, in the Rural Section: