Meat Free Week 2015
Why should we go ‘meat free’ this week?
One of the questions that I know is on a lot of people’s lips is ‘Why shouldn’t I eat meat this week?’. This week (23rd – 29th March) it is national meat free week in order to raise awareness of the benefits of eating less meat and more vegetables for the benefit of both the planet and our health. Many chefs are involved in the project, including Antonio Carluccio and Raymond Blanc, and they hope to persuade people to eat less meat and see if they can change their minds about vegetarian food.
A big reason for not eating so much meat is because we are harming the planet in a pretty big way. It just isn’t sustainable for us to be eating so much meat. In the US, people eat almost 40 animals a year. Whilst that doesn’t sound like such a big number, try to think about the resources needed to produce so much meat. Think about the amount of water the animal has had to drink. We can save more water by not eating a Ib of meat than by not showering for six months. In America, 70% of grains produced are fed to animals (grains and corn which could’ve been fed to starving children around the world instead). Cows also produce a huge amount of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas destroying the ozone. The list goes on.
I know so many people who often eat meat once or twice a day, and we just don’t need it. Most people eat meat as they believe they need the protein, but actually, unless you’re a heavyweight bodybuilder, nobody needs that amount of protein, plus even bodybuilders get their protein from cleaner sources such as eggs or pulses. Meat and animal fat is tremendously high in saturated fats and cholesterol which cause cancer and heart disease, and it goes without saying the amount of hormones you indirectly ingest when you eat it.
We are facing a global food epidemic
The world is facing an epidemic on both sides. On the one side, people are becoming resistant to antibiotics as they’re indirectly ingesting them through the animals they eat. To put it in a straightforward way, animals which are kept in factory farms are fed a cocktail of antibiotics to prevent them becoming ill. Humans then eat this meat, indirectly ingesting the antibiotics, and therefore we are developing a resistance to our own medicines. Scary, heh?
We are also facing a global food epidemic where, in our lifetime, we will see children in developing countries die a slow and painful death due to starvation. And why? Because the developed world demands they have meat seven days a week. As I said before, think about the grains and corn used to feed our animals. Wouldn’t it be more sustainable if we used these grains to feed those in developing countries where they face a shortage of food?
A further issue we face is the welfare of the animals we are eating. The more meat we demand as consumers, the more animals we need, and more and more factory farms are cropping up all over the place. As many of you may have seen, the BBC ran a documentary this week about the factory farming of chicken in the UK to be used in fast food restaurants. People were appalled that chickens are kept in such a way in the UK, but this has been going on for a long time. In the UK, many people believe we have a right to eat meat, but we should regard it as a privilege. The UK shouldn’t be producing chickens for £2.99. People should be able to afford to spend a little bit more on their meat, and just eat less of it like they did in the past. Look back to during the war when meat was rationed – people came up with inventive ways to cook vegetables.
I’m not suggesting we all go vegetarian, but I’m asking you to rethink how much meat you need to eat. How about only eating meat three times a week, and instead introducing more beans, pulses and vegetables into your diet? Not only will it benefit your health, but it’s also a much more sustainable way to live our lives.