Go meat free and save the world

South Waikato News - - Backyard Banter -

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.

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An­i­mal farm­ing is one of the lead­ing causes of de­for­esta­tion around the world.

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