We're all familiar with the strong environmental arguments often made for eating a meat free diet, usually backed up with alarming statistics (like these from Peta- http://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/how-does-eating-meat-harm-the-environment/).

However, it's important to be aware that the majority of these statistics are based on the intensive farming practices used in the USA.

In the UK, pasture fed animals are far more common than they are in America - think how many fields of cows and sheep you see on any trip to the countryside.

These animal pastures are an important ecological resource: traditional grazing land isn't ploughed, is far less likely to be treated by chemical pesticides, is more likely to support hedgerow communities, and is a haven for many forms of wildlife.

Contrary to the oft-repeated environmental argument, turning land used for animal farming over to arable or vegetable crops would actually have a negative environmental impact for local biodiversity and wildlife in the UK.

This should remind us how important it is to always take regional differences into account when faced with supposedly "universal" arguments, and to remember that specificity is a key aspect of any scientific research.