"All you need is meat," his critics sneer. Sir Paul McCartney does not let himself be put off by it. The motto of his environmental protection campaign "Less meat – less heat" even leads him to the European Parliament. If everyone gave up meat just one day a week, the planet could seriously benefit, predicts the 67-year-old ex-Beatle.
Like Bob Geldof or U2 singer Bono, McCartney seems tireless in his determination to make the world a better place. A vegetarian since the 1970s, he is committed to animal welfare. In Brussels on this rainy Thursday, he is promoting his project to EU parliamentarians. In the run-up to the Copenhagen UN climate summit, McCartney has caught a good moment. He makes his statement in the company of environmental activists, nutritionists and climate specialists discussing strategies for Copenhagen. The ex-Beatle explains that cattle farming swallows a third of the world's water consumption. Resulting wastewater contained pesticides and antibiotics. The immense quantities of animal feed also leave behind a considerable carbon footprint. Undoubtedly, the agricultural sector pollutes the environment. McCartney therefore wants to "offer responsibility for the future" – and that sounds almost modest coming from a vegetarian: Once a week, everyone should give up meat. Catholics should find the Beatle's blockade of meatballs easy to accept. After all, meat-free Fridays have long been taken for granted for reasons of faith – at least in theory. Quite practically against it the Max-Planck-Institut propagates already for 25 years a knowledge: Agriculture contributes to the greenhouse effect. McCartney is also convinced of this connection. He refers to studies that establish a connection between meat production and global carbon dioxide emissions. Less meat equals less CO2. The fact that cattle on pasture make a significant contribution to global warming is no longer disputed among scientists. When digesting food, potential steak suppliers release methane. The problem is that the gas has up to 23 times more effect on the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. It stays in the air for up to nine years. Experts have calculated that meat production generates four-fifths of agricultural emissions. And a meat-heavy diet is widespread across the EU, with an upward trend. Those who suffer most from the EU citizens' love of meat are those who often don't even have the bare necessities to eat. Africa, for example, is already suffering from increasing droughts and ever less fresh water. Global "overgrazing" is fueling the trend and driving global warming even higher. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) President Rajendra Pachauri is particularly concerned about the poorest countries. "If we continue as we are, we will completely deprive the people there of their livelihoods."Pachauri fears an increase in drug trafficking and migration; water is also becoming increasingly scarce. Therefore it calls to use each measure for the decrease of the CO2-Emissionen. For him, this also includes reaching for the tofu burger instead of the meat burger. Soy produces ten times fewer emissions in production than beef. That should taste ex-Beatle McCartney.