New Zealand First MP and Minister Shane Jones has berated climate change activists for promoting the importance of reduced meat consumption, comparing their campaigns to "eco bible-bashing".
In an interview with Radio Waatea on Monday, Jones likened activists to "medieval torture chamber workers" hellbent on "preaching this gospel of absolutism".
Jones, who is the Minister of Forestry, Infrastructure and Regional Economic Development, made his opinions known following the Government's announcement that schools will receive new resources to teach children about climate change.
On Sunday, January 12, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced that school children will be taught "the role science plays in understanding climate change", as well as "the response to it and its impacts, globally, nationally and locally". The resource also explores opportunities to reduce and adapt to the impacts of climate change "on everyday life".
The 'Climate Change - Prepare Today, Live Well Tomorrow' resource was trialled at Christchurch's New Brighton School in 2018 and includes video, text and guidance for students.
Green MP and Climate Change Minister James Shaw has suggested that children can help the fight against carbon emissions by reducing their meat intake in favour of a more plant-based diet.
"Children today are understandably growing up worried about how climate change will affect their lives... our zero-carbon legislation is an important framework for lasting change, but its success depends on all of us working every single day to take the ambitious action we need," Shaw said in a statement.
Although Jones did not reference Shaw's comments specifically, he did reject the common dietary advice as "absolutism" perpetuated by "bible bashers".
"Absolutism is what we saw in the medieval days of putting people on the rack because there was an absolute sense of conviction that their perspective was the only perspective," he told the Auckland-based Māori station.
Jones added that New Zealand First is "deeply suspicious of any scientist" who "preaches" ways to fight against climate change.
"This gospel of absolutism - we don't like that and we're not going to acquiesce in that.
"They want you to join their shrill voices."
He noted that "standing up for industry" is not always hand-in-hand with "denying the existence of changing climate and changing weather".
Yet Jones' kitchen won't be stocked with beans and rice anytime soon, the Minister adamantly saying he "won't be desisting from eating copious amounts of kaimoana [seafood] or meat".
"That's how I grew up."