Meet the meat issues

Starting today is National Meat Free Week!

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I challenge you (well the campaign does, but I like challening people) to go a week without meat, from today for 7 days.

The campaign exists to get people thinking and talking about meat, its consumption, and its production.

About 2 years ago, I would have put my hands up in surrender and said, “I could NEVER be vegetarian. I love meat. I love burgers. I love kebabs. Animals were made to be eaten.” But then the question dawned on me… what exactly am I eating? Where does it come from? Why am I so disconnected from the things I eat, the very things that sustain my life? So I got learning.

What I learnt prompted me to respond and now I’m a vegetarian who mostly stays away from milk, cheese and eggs. Everyone responds to the things they learn in different degrees, and learning about the meat industry won’t necessarily prompt you to go vego, nor is doing so the only ethical response. But if nothing else, it’s good to be connected to and understand better, the things we put in our body .

The point of cutting out meat for a week is to show you how much meat you eat. You might not notice the change. But, if you’re an average Australian meat consumer, you will be eating very differently this week. Australians consume, on average, 123.8kg of meat a year, the third biggest consumer of meat in the world. That’s about 2.4kg a week, about 4 times the recommended amount. In 50 years meat consumption has gone up exponentially worldwide… The meat industry has changed. A lot. And for the worse.

So the extreme increase in the consumption of meat is a problem for a few reasons: (the below facts are just snippets of the issue, be sure to do your own research)

1. The impact on your health

NEW Health with Footnotes - March 2014_1

+ High consumption of red and processed meat (like bacon, ham, sausages, salami and other packaged meat such as pastrami) is associated with colon cancer3and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

2. The impact on the environment

MFW-Environment2

+ 90 per cent of the world’s soya and over 30 per cent of the world’s grains (including wheat and corn) are used to feed farm animals. The majority of which are intensively “factory” farmed.

+ At a time when some 800 million people suffer from malnutrition, one third of the world’s cereal harvest is fed to farm animals – enough to feed almost three billion people.

3. The impact on animals

MFW Factory Farming March 2014 with footnotes

Being meat free doesn’t just mean red meat.. it means ALL meat – including chicken, ham, fish (yes even tuna) and all sea food.

Scientists and environmentalists agree that reducing meat consumption will take pressure off the planet’s resources. Animal welfare groups globally have called for an end to intensive “factory” farming practices used to meet our consumption demands.

Going without meat for one week might get you to think about how you consume meat for all the other weeks in your year.  By just eating less meat, or having a few meat-free days a week, you can make a big difference to your health as well as help to lessen the damage on the environment. Alternatively you might decide to consider opting for meat and fish that is ethically and sustainably produced. Or you might want to go all out vego.

Skip meat for week, do some research and I’d love to hear what you decide to do! 🙂

 Images and stats taken from
https://meatfreeweek.org/  check it out for more info.

A GREAT book to read on the whole food issue, beautifully written and researched, is Eating Animals  by Jonathan Safron Foer – a great philosopher of our time!

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A good film regarding the health impact of animal food products is the doco Forks over Knives (wacth in full below):

http://www.alluc.to/documentaries/watch-forks-over-knives-2011-online/329436.html

Hijack of the day

It has come to my attention that today, and yesterday, and tomorrow, and every single day, have been been hijacked; taken over and marked with flags of ownership… though mostly for a good cause. I’m talking about all the National and International days proclaimed by organisations as Their Day.

The last year or so I have noticed it a lot more. Perhaps this is just because I am more in tune with the charity and cause frequency than I was before, or perhaps the growth in social media has given organisations more access to the general public. Or maybe, as I suspect, the ever accelerating process of globalisation and the consequent excess of information, with corporations and causes all wanting your attention, has both permitted and forced everyone to adopt an entire day, or even week, to publicise and broadcast their agenda – ‘raise awareness’.

If I sound cynical, I don’t mean to be (the tone seems to come naturally to me) –  I actually love knowing what ‘day’ it is today; whether it be International Dance Day (29th April), Red Nose Day (27th June) or my Birthday (11th December).

Days hold significance for people at all levels – individually and collectively. Western culture particularly values dates and general ‘officialness’.

As someone who is drawn to meaning, history and sentimentality (perhaps it’s just called being human), if I’m having a particularly uninspiring day, I’ll sometimes look up the date and see any causes that want my attention today, or any interesting history that has been officially scheduled into remembrance on this date. This quick investigation draws me out of the smallness of my world – one that can seem, on those days, claustrophobic, daunting or even boring. It connects me to meaning, and collective communities that are bigger than my otherwise shrinking thoughts.

For example, in the last week we have had:

  • Today (21st March) – World Down Syndrome Day

  • Thursday (20th March) – International Day of Happiness (United Nations)

  • Monday (17th March) – St Patricks Day

  • Saturday (15h March) – International Day Against Police Brutality

As well as a name, there is action to those days – people are getting together to celebrate, advocate, mourn, petition, remember.. something. It’s cool.

I might write about some of these ‘hijacked’ days and the causes responsible from time to time, on the days that they take place.

Heads up – Next week, starting on the 24th and ending on the 30th of March, is National Meat Free Week. Because I want someone else to explain, here’s an article from the Sydney Morning Herald that will tell you things:

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/eating-meat-when-less-is-better-for-you-20140315-34t7d.html

but I’ll write my own article next week. (I challenge you to read the article, and attempt a week without meat).

TODAY If you have had a mediocre Friday and need reminding that the world is diverse, vibrant, interesting and home to people with initiative and passion, here’s a list of things that are significant about today:

As already mentioned today is World Down Syndrome Day – this video made for the day is a beautiful watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju-q4OnBtNU

It’s also Harmony Day in Australia, a day to promote cohesion and inclusion and promote a tolerant and culturally diverse Australia – schools across the country encouraged children to wear the colour orange to show their support for the message ‘everyone belongs’.

A long time ago today, in 1617 Pocahontas died in England – incredible that her name and parts of her story, are still remembered in the 21st century.

If you’re still not feeling connected to the world, here’s a song by Baths for you to chill out to – they’re playing tonight at Oxford Art Factory, which makes today a good day for the people who are going:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHvWURUzj3Q