Next week – the 18th to 24th of March is the inaugural Meat Free Week Challenge, which is an Australian initiative to encourage people to eat less meat, and at the same time raise some funds for Voiceless – an organisation that work to raise awareness about factory farming and the impact that eating too much meat has on animal welfare, the planet and our own health.
I don’t believe in preaching food choices as everyone has to do what works for them and their bodies, but I do think it’s important that people are properly considering those choices. Even reducing the amount of meat you eat by having a meat free day a week will have a positive impact, and will open you up to a world of new flavours and foods.
Australian’s are ranked as the second highest consumers of meat in the world which is a pretty scary fact, particularly when you consider that the overwhelming majority of meat in Australia is factory farmed. According to the Challenge’s website:
Our population of 22.8 million ate in one month alone more than 624,000 cows, 47,000 calves, 540,000 sheep, 1.68 million lambs and 382,000 pigs.
Animal welfare particularly with regards to factory farming seems to be the reason behind a lot of people becoming vegetarian. Whilst this is definitely important, for me one of the biggest reasons was the impact excessive meat consumption has on the planet. It takes an enormous amount water and grains to feed these animals and demand for grazing space is resulting in the deforestation of vast areas, including huge areas of the Amazon rainforest.
The current level of meat consumption is just not sustainable for our planet and the more I thought about it, the more I realised I couldn’t comfortably work in areas relating to sustainability whilst continuing to eat meat. If I was to embrace a sustainable lifestyle then that had to include cutting out meat entirely. To be honest it really should mean going vegan, but I have trouble cutting cheese out of my diet (it’s too delicious and soy cheese just doesn’t cut it!) so instead have reduced the amount of dairy and eggs I eat more generally, which works for me. I don’t believe it should be about deprivation, rather finding what works for you and making whatever changes you can. It all adds up.
As B and I are both already vegetarian it’s not exactly a challenge for us, but I thought it was a worthy enough cause to draw some attention to it. If you are interested you can donate to the challenge directly, or otherwise find someone who is taking up the challenge and support them directly. Lisa from the Greek Vegetarian blog has signed her husband Tony up, so I will be sending him my support – you can read more about what they are doing for the challenge here
What do you think of the challenge? Could you go meat free for a week?