Sunday, September 25, 2011

Meat Free Monday?

If I had my way, it would be a meat free day, every day. Paul McCartney first inspired the Meat Free Monday movement to encourage people to give up meat for one day a week in a bid to "save money, reduce your environmental impact and live a healthier life..." (MFM site).

What scares me the most is that I can't understand how we live in a society where the thought of abstaining from meat for one whole day is such an abhorrent idea? How did we get to a point in this modern day and age, where we're so reliant on animal protein to sustain us? Without going on a rant about the obvious cruelty involved in the meat industry, if we were to break it down by just looking at the negative health effects of eating animal protein on a daily basis, then surely that would be enough to persuade people to give meat the flick for a single day a week? Apparently not.

We could also look at animal agriculture's effects on the environment from both a land degradation and greenhouse gas emissions perspective... Animal agriculture is a massive contributor to both and at a rate that is nothing short of alarming (have a read of today's The Age article on banning beef), yet despite this fact, despite the proven negative health effects of eating meat, and most importantly despite the cruelty involved in factory farming, we as a society still feel it unforgivable to be asked to give up meat for one day a week.

As the demand for meat seems to keep increasing, as does its impact on our environment, we need to find a better way to communicate to a seemingly ignorant public the obvious correlation between diet and climate change. I would love to go out and shout "Go Vegan" to every passer-by, but in reality an abolitionist cry may effect change in less than a handful of people if that. Some may disagree with me on that point, however, what I think is initially needed to aid a smoother transition to a vegan diet/lifestyle, is more government-funded education on meat consumption and its negative effect on our environment: what it means for us and our planet moving forward.

If animal cruelty and meat's health-risks won't sway people away from eating meat, then maybe we need more stronger messaging around how our food choices are killing our planet, depriving other humans of food, destroying out last surviving rain forests and increasing water pollution?

Perhaps we could consider a tax on beef? Have animal agriculture included in the federal government's carbon trading scheme?

A start, at least for our planet, would be to go meat free for one day.


  1. Nicely written Jess!

    It would be interesting to see what the real cost of beef actually is, far from having a tax on meat, our government currently subsidises the 'poor' farmers at every turn. It all comes down to dollars and taste-buds. Animal export profits and the profits from the national meat-centric populace insure that the government is not only happy to turn a blind eye to cruelty, the degradation of the environment and the detriment on the health of the human population but to subsidise and bank-roll all these negative ramifications of the meat industry... the mind boggles!


  2. Thanks Souraya!

    I often wonder why the 'poor' farmers keep getting subsidised. That's what I found really hard to come to terms with when the initial live export bill was being put forward: the government succumbed so readily to the poor farmer argument that they were blind-sighted to the bigger picture. And I completely agree with you -dollars and taste buds. We have one of the biggest (I think it's actually the largest now after the US) live export trades in the world. The profits that our export and our general meat industry generates is enough for the government to keep the economy falsely happy, the farmers and industry bodies happy, and the population fed to the brim with meat. Cruelty and the environment don't get a second glance. I find it so frustrating...!

    :) Jess