A recommendation that students eat less meat and dairy to take action on climate change has raised the ire of New Zealand's meat industry.

The new resource - Climate Change: Prepare Today, Live Well Tomorrow - is from the Ministry of Education and is aimed at Level 4 teachers teaching children aged 7-10 about climate.

Suggestions for taking action include talking more about global warming, reducing electricity use and driving and flying less.

But it's a short blurb that suggests reducing meat and dairy intake that has riled the meat industry's lobby group, Beef + Lamb NZ.


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The two-paragraph snippet says red meat and dairy production result in significantly more greenhouse gas emissions than chicken, fruit, veges and cereals.

Students could take action by cutting down on meat and eating more fruit and veges instead - including trying a meatless Monday each week.

Beef + Lamb NZ said today it was "concerned" that the resource took a "simplistic approach" and gave "sweeping recommendations" without context.

Head of nutrition Fiona Windle said the group supported children being informed about climate change, and the resource was based on good intentions.

"However ... while 'reduce meat and dairy' is a popular sound bite to roll out, the implications on our youngest and most impressionable in society could be far-reaching and detrimental."

There was no reference to the Ministry of Health's eating guidelines and no discussion of the nutritional benefits that animal-based foods offered, she said.

This portion of a new Ministry of Education climate-change resource has raised the ire of Beef + Lamb NZ.
This portion of a new Ministry of Education climate-change resource has raised the ire of Beef + Lamb NZ.

One third of young girls in New Zealand did not get enough iron each day, she said - "yet there is a blanket statement suggesting they should just 'reduce' their meat consumption".


A website with vegetarian recipes, OhMyVeggies.com, has also irked the organisation - as it is not a New Zealand website and its credentials were not clear.

The Ministry of Education deputy secretary early learning & student achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid said these messages weren't new to the community.

"There is nothing in this resource that says it does not support our farming industry. The messages reflect advice that already exists such as being mindful of food consumption, among many other things including recycling and travel.

"We expect schools to consult with their local community when making decisions about how they deliver the curriculum. This resource is not a compulsory part of the curriculum.

"Awareness of the environment and our place in it is one part of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). Nutrition is covered in a different part of the curriculum."