Less meat, more life
WHY are governments not jumping up and down about meat?
We are told to save energy, car pool and recycle to save the environment, but despite the harmful effects of our meat eating on the earth (and our health), why is there a silence?
Some experts believe the issue is too controversial to raise to voters. For instance, last month, former US President Barack Obama admitted that all US political parties work to protect food producers.
“People, I think, are more resistant to the idea of government or bureaucrats telling them what to eat,” he told the New York Times.
Powerful industry and political interests prevail.
The starvation of policies on this issue stands in stark contrast to fat funding for the meat industry – in the European Union for instance, each cow gets a subsidy of US$190 (RM810)!
The other problem is awareness. A multi-country Ipsos MORI poll commissioned by Chatham House found most people were not aware of the impact of meat on climate change, believing transport was a far more significant factor.
Currently, the middle class in many countries eat twice as much meat as deemed healthy, Chatham House says. Overconsumption is contributing to obesity, heart disease, stroke, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.
If all Americans had a “Meatless Monday”, it would be the equivalent of all cars in the country being switched to hybrids, researchers at the University of Chicago have calculated.
The idea of a “Meatless Monday” hasn’t really hit Malaysians yet. But elsewhere, amid the failure of governments to act, ordinary people are joining the campaign. Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney has helped promote it in Britain.
In Hong Kong, one individual, David Yeung, has been making headway in a David vs. Goliath battle against meat consumption. His “Green Monday” is wellknown – about 1,000 restaurants and 800 schools have joined, offering vegetarian options on Monday.
One government taking action is China. Realising that the future of climate change depends on the diets of ordinary Chinese, their government is advocating cutting meat consumption by 50%.
Joining this bold step forward is Wild Aid and Hollywood celebrities Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron. The campaign’s tagline: Less Meat, Less Heat, More Life.
“Flexitarianism” – skipping meat now and then – rather than vegetarianism is an option promoted.
The Humane Society International’s Alexandra Clark advocates “compassionate eating” with the “three R’s”: “reducing” or “replacing” animal products, and “refining” diets by choosing products that are ethically or environmentally better.
Our high meat-eating habits are harming our planet earth and our health – we need to shift our diets. With the politics around the meat industry, it looks like ordinary citizens will have to lead the way here.
Our appetite for meat is harming our health and planet.
Industrial cattle farms often have crammed conditions. Antibiotics and growth hormones are usually given to prevent diseases and fatten the animals up.