For a while now, you’ll have noticed the words ‘Meat Free Monday’ popping up on my blog. Most of the recipes that I share tend to be veggie or vegan and are usually preceded by those three words, I guess with an assumption that most people know what the heck I’m talking about. Well, for those that don’t, this one’s for you.
Meat Free Monday is a movement which aims to encourage people to give up meat completely for one day a week. The reasons for this are fourfold and were touched upon by Fit as a Flea‘s wonderful blog post which I shared a few weeks ago, but I have outlined them again below (scroll down), as I think assuming knowledge of the campaign and it’s sympathies was perhaps a little lazy of me.
So why I am actually pulling my finger out now? Well, on Tuesday 23rd September global leaders – from government, finance, business, and civil society – are planning to meet at the UN headquarters in New York to discuss climate change. It will be the first time the UN has tackled the subject since the crock of shite that was Copenhagen in 2009.
The lovely bods behind Meat Free Monday (including Sir Paul McCartney himself) want the leaders of this meeting to commit now to agreeing an ambitious climate treaty at the COP 21 Conference in Paris, next year. To show them that there is a commitment from consumers to reduce global emissions too, they are asking everyone to make one small and easy change, and pledge to go meat-free on Mondays.
You can take the pledge on their website (go on, go on, go on) and in case you need a reminder, here’s why you should:
- For the planet: The FAO estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.World scientists on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agree that we need to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by 80 per cent by 2050 in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.
- For your health: In 2010, a study carried out by Oxford University’s department of public health found that eating meat no more than three times a week could prevent 31,000 deaths from heart disease, 9,000 deaths from cancer and 5,000 deaths from stroke, as well as save the NHS £1.2 billion in costs each year. (On a personal level, if I eat meat more than a couple of times a week, I swear I get a load more spots, and some pretty brutal stomach cramps around that time of the month, too). And all of that is before you even consider the effects of the growth hormones and antibiotics routinely ingested as a result of eating the animals who have been raised on them (pretty much anything non-organic).
- For your purse: Ha ha, I love this one. This is basically the main way in which I have managed to convince my other half that being semi-veggie is a good idea. The cost of meat has risen 10 per cent since 2007, yet most of the staples of a meat-free diet are comparatively cheaper: plant proteins such as dried beans or lentils will almost always cost less than the equivalent amount of animal protein. A diet high in meat-free meals is so much cheaper. Don’t believe me? Go to any good restaurant: Steak and chips? £17. Pumpkin Ravioli? £10, max. I’m sold!
- For the animals: Last, but by no means least. Billions of animals are farmed and killed for meat every year. Most of them are raised in intensive factory farms, in cramped, overcrowded cages, sheds and pens. Farmed animals are subjected to mutilations such as having their beaks clipped, their teeth pulled out and their tails docked to stop them from pecking and wounding each other through boredom and frustration. Eating less meat, and paying more for it when we do, is a compassionate step that helps prevent cruelty and suffering.
Some people might argue that giving up meat just one day a week is not enough in light of the challenges we now face when it comes to food, climate, and indeed animal welfare.
And I would agree with them. But more than anything, I see Meat Free Monday as a stepping stone to embracing meals without meat, to discovering more about cooking and eating without meat and still feeling satisfied. And that’s got to be a good thing.
So what are you waiting for? 🙂