TV struggles to find the recipe to talk about meat reduction, despite the climate emergency

Cutting the butt of fat in front of a television program is a habit for many television viewers. But when it’s TV that wants to stab part of the diet of many French men and women, the matter becomes more delicate. In the media, if the environmental issue has never been so present, the lever of reducing our meat consumption remains taboo.

Yet in 2022, the figures from Citepa, the organization that calculates greenhouse gas emissions in France are formal: agriculture represents nearly a fifth (20.6%) of greenhouse gas emissions. of the country and is the second most polluting sector after transport. We also know that cattle breeding is an important part of this sector, particularly because the animals consume a lot of water and food. You can also add the methane produced by cattle. In addition to environmental issues, there are animal welfare issues with regard to intensive farming.

Yet in the media, while positive climate initiatives are praised, when it comes to explaining to the population that a global reduction in meat consumption would be favorable, the majority instead opts for politics. of the ostrich. Why such nervousness? 20 minutes tries to answer.

“Who does she think she is? »

After her usual weather forecast for January 29, 2023, Tatiana Silva indicates that 20% to 50% of pollution in France comes from food production, processing and transport. Since September 2022 and the heat wave of the summer that preceded it, the TF1 weather team has been providing environmental advice and information in a section entitled Our planet. She continues: “It’s important to eat seasonally, […] try to eat as little processed as possible and, perhaps, cut meat consumption for a few days, or even completely. »

On social networks, the fork of the presenter makes the invective bloom by the dozen. “Who does the slice of anorexic rusk Tatiana Silva think she is to give lessons? TF1, what are you doing to tell her to take care of what concerns her? “Asks a user on Twitter. Another adds: “She has no skills, she is a weather presenter. […] Tired of people taking advantage of their media visibility to tell us what to do. »

Contacted by 20 minutes, Tatiana Silva did not wish to speak, but the channel evokes a “personal position” of its host. The objective of the sequence is however to provide information and “good actions to adopt in terms of climate protection”. TF1 regrets that the “moralizing” character perceived by its audience. “It generated a lot of reactions and increased the vigilance of the weather service for this sequence”, we are still told. In other words, we won’t take it again.

Talk about it to convince?

Too bad, says journalist Hugo Clément. Author of the book Rabbits don’t eat carrots (Fayard, 2022), he has been involved in the subject for many years and is the voice of a weekly column on environmental subjects on France Inter. “It is important that the media talk about these issues, because food is one of the main levers for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and slowing down the loss of biodiversity”, he insists for 20 minutes.

Is his discourse effective for all that? Yes, he replies. “I very often meet people who tell me that they have changed their consumption following a program or one of my books, when they were not at all interested in the subject before. »

However, Hugo Clément believes that it is important not to enter into a “race for ecological purity” so as not to exclude anyone. “It is better to have millions of people who significantly reduce their purchases of animal products than a few thousand vegans. »

Injunctions “difficult to cash”

Obviously easier said than done. All the more so in 2023 with galloping inflation and repeated political scandals which increase the social divide felt by the population.

The injunctions – which are added to not being too fatty, sweet or salty and to five fruits and vegetables a day – are then “difficult to cash in”, according to journalist and author Nora Bouazzouni. “We have the impression that the rich have the right to do what they want in terms of food and consumption, we see it for example with the use of private jets or the scandal of the giant lobsters of François de Rugy. On the one hand, there is a dominant class that overeat and who are not messed with, and on the other, the working class who are asked to deprive themselves of everything. »

Especially since food hides questions of identity, culture, tradition and sometimes even religion. For some, France comes down to a meat steak and a glass of wine, a heritage issue. For the media, it is difficult not to fall into public guilt.

Cyberbullying and precautions

The misogynistic remarks received by Tatiana Silva do not surprise Nora Bouazzouni, especially when it is a woman who dares to talk about meat. “We have already seen this kind of reaction with Sandrine Rousseau when she said that barbecues were a symbol of virilism”, she recalls. Because eating meat is also a reaffirmation of the status of man as the ruler of the food chain, according to the journalist who confides that she herself has already suffered waves of cyberbullying while speaking on the subject.

After several years of campaigning on the subject, the hate messages that Hugo Clément receives are marginal. He nevertheless says to avoid “a peremptory tone and a speech that is too injunctive” to guard against it. “It is above all necessary to put the action on the figures, the images, and the scientific explanations of the impact of breeding on the environment and on us. »

On the side of the TF1 tower, we now prefer to compartmentalize this subject to slices of information because they affect the economy, certain professions… The channel insists on the interest of the contradictory in terms of meat.

“We will have no choice”

However, if Tatiana Silva had to face many criticisms, her initiative was also welcomed. In particular by the Quota Climat collective which “warmly congratulated Tatiana Silva on this salutary initiative”, while regularly criticizing the media for their poor treatment of climate issues.

Hugo Clément feels an increasingly deep gap between the expectations of citizens on this subject and “the inaction of political leaders”. “However, I think that these blockages are breaking down and that the subject is more and more legitimate. […] Anyway, if we want to avoid ecological collapse, we will have no choice. »

“The objective is commendable”, confirms Nora Bouazzouni. However, she invites us to “think about how we produce the speeches and how it will be received by people”. Because, alongside the practices of citizens who are evolving, no policy seems to move the system. “We have the impression that, whatever we do, as long as the politicians have not made a decision, our individual practices have no impact. »

” It’s progressing “

Does challenging politics therefore necessarily involve raising popular awareness upstream? Hard to say. In any case, this proves that meat remains a delicacy to be handled with delicacy.

But it is progressing according to Hugo Clément. “We are talking more and more about these subjects on TV, on the radio, in the press… Not yet as much as we should, but it is progressing. The very fact that you are writing this article is telling,” he concludes. It remains to find the right recipe so that the subject does not remain in anyone’s throat.

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