We are continuously hearing about how we humans, as a species, are destroying our planet resulting in a well-founded fear about the type of world the next generation will inherit. Many things can feel out of control for example, the negative effects of giant multinational corporations or deforestation in the Amazon. However, now more than ever we need to start asking the question of what can WE do? We ALL can do something starting with changing things up a little, just one day a week.
The change I’m talking about is Meat Free Monday. A small change that each of us can do which can have a huge impact. Asking people to give up meat completely is too optimistic, as it is potentially changing your whole lifestyle. So instead, we just ask for one day a week. Paul, Mary, and Stella McCartney launched Meat Free Monday in 2009. As a vegetarian himself, Paul dreamt of making a difference. He wanted to raise awareness of the detrimental effects that animal agriculture and industrial fishing is having on our environment.
DID YOU KNOW:
- Meat production threatens 1 in 6 species with extinction?
- Globally, as much as 40% of animals caught and killed by the seafood industry are bycatch (unwanted marine creatures trapped by commercial fishing nets)?
- Currently some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, yet the amount of cereal which could feed three times this number of people is fed to cattle, pigs, and chickens annually?
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation?
- There are 1.4 billion cattle in the world, and that number is growing as demand for beef and dairy increases; together with other grazing animals, they contribute to about 40 percent of the annual methane budget?
- Methane has a global warming potential 86 times that of CO2 on a 20 year time frame?
- Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption?
These questions leave no doubt that it is clear we need to reduce our meet consumption or cut it out completely. Reducing methane emissions would create tangible benefits almost immediately. You may be thinking, what about the small-scale farmers who have been rearing cattle for generations? Or communities in rural areas who rely on their cattle or fishing for food? They are not the main issue; it is the mass production of meat at a large scale which is resulting in its unsustainable nature. Due to the industrialization of meat production, beef now costs half of what it did in 1970.
The average person in the world consumed around 43 kilograms of meat in 2014. This ranges from over 100kg in the US and Australia to only 5kg in India.
The benefit of Meat Free Monday is not only that you are helping slow climate change, but it is also greatly beneficial to your health! Vegetarians and vegans are at a lower risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure. Many of the world’s leading health organisations are now encouraging a reduction in the amount of meat consumed. The World Cancer Research Fund recommends we “choose mostly plant foods, limit red meat and avoid processed meat”. People are increasingly finding creative meat substitutes along with creating delicious vegetarian & vegan meals. See the learn more do more for some recipes!
If we can commit towards changing our lives in this way, we will be working towards feeding the world in a sustainable way. Feeding the world sustainably is one of our most pressing challenges in the coming decades, and the meat industry clearly plays a pivotal role in this. Let’s create some momentum around Meat Free (and Methane reducing) Mondays!
Learn More Do More:
- Meet Free Monday: https://www.meatfreemondays.com/
- Jamie Oliver. 13 Veggie Recipes to Make Meat Eaters Envious. https://www.jamieoliver.com/galleries/15-veggie-recipes-to-make-meat-eaters-envious/#!3
- National Geographic: Methane, explained. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/methane/
- A fun plant-based Instagram account with lots of veggie dish ideas @thefakevegan_
- Cowspiracy Website. Full Documentary on Netflix. https://www.cowspiracy.com/.
- The Game Changers. Professional Athletes cut out Meat. https://gamechangersmovie.com/
- 5 Meat-Free Barbeque Swaps https://www.rte.ie/lifestyle/food/2020/0710/1152485-5-meat-free-bbq-swaps/
- The Happy Pear: https://thehappypear.ie/