FARMERS HAVE blasted children’s television series Blue Peter for encouraging kids to give up meat as part of its two-week 'climate change challenge'.

The CBBC programme came under criticism for making 'sweeping statements' about meat consumption and the impact that could have on the millions of impressionable young minds who tune in.

Blue Peter has asked viewers to become part of a ‘green army’ to tackle carbon emissions and climate change and its top suggestions to take part included turning off lights when you leave a room, switching from plastic bottles to reusable ones, and having meat-free meals. Children can earn a ‘Supersize Green Badge’ by taking the two-week pledge to change these things in their lives.

The programme makers involved environmentalist Matthew Shribman, who stated: “Scientists have recently worked out that eating meat is one of the biggest things causing climate change. Reducing the amount of meat you eat, especially beef and lamb, is known to be even better for the climate than reducing the amount you travel in a car.”

Welsh sheep farmer and well-known advocate of the industry, Gareth Wyn Jones, took to social media to challenge Blue Peter’s assertions with a video response which has since gone viral: “In this country we have got grass and grass can be produced very easily on marginal lands that you can’t grow crops. This land will produce some of the top-quality proteins – beef and lamb – and it is produced in a sustainable, regenerative, and very environmentally friendly way.

“Why aren’t we telling our children this? My kids know it – why is Blue Peter and CBBC with a massive platform with millions of young minds listening not taking the opportunity to give them a balanced argument, show them the facts, give them the opportunity to make that decision?” he demanded.

“These children aren’t stupid – give them an educated choice not just one sweeping statement that doesn’t work.

“I am disappointed as a farmer and as a father. Things need to change, we need to make sure we are talking to our children about seasonal food, locally produced food, environmentally friendly food, regenerative agriculture,” he suggested. “These are the buzzwords. This is what will save our planet and meat has a part in that. This is what we have to get over.”

Blue Peter’s Facebook page encourages kids to take the ‘Supersize Plants Pledge’ and suggests the following: “Choose a plant-based meal – that means no meat, chicken or fish. The Blue Peter Climate Heroes calculation works out the difference between eating plant-based and meat-based meals over two weeks. It compares the carbon footprint of one red meat and one chicken dish and hopes you swap eight meals across two weeks – especially at school lunches where plant-based meals are an option. There’s an even bigger saving if you swap your evening meal.”

One farmer online responded: “It is not meat production that we should be complaining about, but how it is produced. That should 'always' be the main consideration.”

Another added: “It's no good telling children that less meat necessarily means a 'greener' diet. Let's take out the oversimplification, and let the kids deal with the complexity. They are more than capable.”