Go meat free and save the world
Considers the benefits of the MeatFree Monday movement.
I grew up in a classic Kiwi household, so when it came to dinnertime, ‘‘meat and three veg’’ usually featured on my plate. Casseroles, pork cutlets, rissoles, sausages… as long as it was meaty, we were happy.
One day my mum had the audacity to serve up a (gasp) vegetable lasagne. Now, this was just not on. The family that would have meat for every meal if we could was suddenly turning into a bunch of hippies. Vegetables? Before we knew it we’d be living on a commune.
New Zealand is one of the world’s leading exporters of beef, lamb and milk products, so it makes sense that we’re one of the biggest consumers too. But our love affair with meat is taking a toll on everything from our health and animal welfare, to the environment and our wallets.
That’s where Meat-Free Monday comes in. Meat-Free Monday is a global movement that encourages people to discover the wonderful world of vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. The group isn’t asking us to give up meat altogether, just experiment with vegetarian and vegan recipes to widen our culinary knowledge – and potentially change the world at the same time.
The livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to global environmental degradation. Producing all that meat and dairy requires large amounts of pesticides, chemical fertiliser, feed, fuel and water. Globally, a third of our planet’s landmass has already been cleared to farm animals, making animal farming the leading cause of deforestation around the world. It might sound crazy, but choosing vegetarian eating over meat can actually save the world.
Choosing veges over meat could impact animals all around the world too. Approximately 130 million animals are killed in New Zealand every year, and millions more are farmed for dairy and eggs. For this scale to even be possible, factory farming is necessary. But while these methods might increase production, they often overlook the welfare of animals, depriving them of exercise, space, fresh air and social interaction.
It’s not just animals; a vegetable-based diet is a great way to make your wallet happier too. Fresh produce can be really affordable at fruit and vege shops or farmers’ markets, and buying grains and legumes in bulk is far cheaper than processed and packaged alternatives. Buy in season, fill the freezer with frozen veges, befriend your local farmers’ market suppliers, grow your own if you’ve got room out the back, and swap any extras on Neighbourly.
Maybe it’s not so far-fetched, then, to swap meat for edamame beans every so often. For more information about Meat-Free Monday, visit meatfreemonday.co.nz.
Animal farming is one of the leading causes of deforestation around the world.