Red meat is now off the menu at Forest Green Rovers FC. This is a massive move announced with a certain degree of glee by environmentalist and Chairman of FGR, Dale Vince (of Ecotricity fame). I have blogged before about the myriad of reasons why meat and dairy consumption is so bad and it is heartening to see these ideas being implemented into football. The manner in which Dale has pushed ahead with this idea however risks it back firing.
Firstly, there was little consultation with the fans. I am of the old-fashioned belief that a club should broadly reflect the will of the fans. This is not to say the Chairman and the board cannot take the lead on issues but they must, at the very least, take the fans with them. You can see from the fans forum that the one consistent message seems to be that the fans do not feel consulted on this issue.
Secondly, I wonder whether removing the red meat option completely is the most effective way forward. This move will reduce the clubs environmental footprint, but will it affect the fan’s health? I doubt it. What it will do is alienate a certain section of the fan base. This could have been avoided if they had introduced a less controversial, more ethical menu (for example introduced free range meat instead of factory farmed) and priced red meats at a higher price to the poultry and fish (partially reflecting that red meat has a higher impact on the earth the poultry, fish or vegetarian options). Without realising it, the supporters who are currently up in arms might have just started eating the cheaper chicken burger and not missed the red meats they habitually eat. Once again, this move smacks of the absolutism that has characterised the “vegetarian Vs meat eater” debate. It is not only stupid, but also detrimental to the environmentalists cause.
This move has generated a huge amount of media attention, from Eurosport through to Sky Sports. It has also been met with the usual dull, badly thought out opinions (see comments at the bottom of the Eurosports link). These responses had a degree of inevitability about them. I just wish this move had been a little more subtle, and a little less media orientated. The result is a clear illustration that the Chairman is putting his business and media plan above the will of fans. This approach will not bring long term prosperity to the club.
For more information on ethical considerations of meat consumption see here.