Bacon and eggs for breakfast, filet mignon for a lunch, and chicken breast to go with your salad for dinner. Unconsciously or not, people’s eating habits almost always incorporate meat in a meal. While generally the choice source of protein for the majority, a year-old movement from the United Kingdom hopes to reduce meat consumption around the globe including the Philippines.
According to James Plotnek of The Carbon Trust—an independent organization that strategies and commercializes efficient low carbon technologies—the country’s participation is vital to the “World Free Meat Day” movement because the Philippines is considered as one of the 10 fastest growing countries in meat consumption.
Flying into the country to personally share these findings, the British advocate began by citing that in 1986 the average Filipino was eating less than 15 kilograms of meat per year. Three decades later, the figure has ballooned to more than 35 kilograms of meat a year.
“That’s about half a pig, or about 23 chickens,” Plotnek illustrated.
To be clear, the movement does not call for people to totally give up meat, because they are very much aware that this is not an easy feat. Their only objective is to encourage individuals around the world to give up meat for at least one meal a day, every once in a while. Besides contributing to a healthier eating habit, the simple “sacrifice,” according to the group’s findings will result to a positive impact on the environment as explained in this article’s sidebar.
Huge impact for one small change
World Meat Free Day, celebrated annually every June 13, is a one-day event that aims to raise awareness in the negative impact of consuming meat.
Currently, 75-percent of farmlands in the world are used for livestock to feed around 7-billion consumers around the world.
More alarmingly, livestock production is the second biggest contributor of non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, second only to energy production. As such, meat production alone emits more greenhouse gases than all forms of global transportation or industrial processes. According to studies, about 18-percent of harmful greenhouse gases actually come from producing beef, poultry and pork consumption. In contrast, the emission of transportation stands at 14-percent, and fossil fuel retrieval at 12-percent.
While farms certainly do not emit the infernal black smoke people see from factories and car exhausts, most farm emissions come in the form of methane and nitrous oxide—that is, from cattle belching, fertilizer use, manure management, and sometimes, disposal of crop residues. And of course, as the world’s population continues to rise, the global demand for meat rises with it.
“Driving public awareness with [World Meat Free Day] is the first step in making big changes. If you don’t have public awareness, it would be very difficult for businesses and the government to take action on this. We really do hope that this event will help people, and Filipinos, understand the environmental impact related to meat consumption,” Plotnek told The Manila Times.
Environment-conscious Filipinos who have switched to biking or have ditched the use of plastics, have also enthusiastically added this practice of giving up meat at least one meal a day to their cause.
For those planning to make World Free Meat Day a part of their lives to, here are some delicious ways to start out:
Try switching from bacon and eggs to a vegetable stir fry for breakfast. Trade in a filet mignon to a linguine pasta with Quorn Meatballs in white truffle cream sauce. (Quorn is a meat free alternative produced by a process of fermentation similar to that used for yeast in bread). Forego the chicken breast in your salad for dinner.
The list of alternatives goes on, but the greatest challenge, as Plotnek and World Meat Free Day know full well, lies in committing ones’ self to taking the first step.