Did you know that Australia is ranked in the top three biggest meat-eating countries in the world (per capita), behind the USA and Luxembourg. Australians eat an average of 111.5 kg of meat per person per year, which is more than double the world’s average of 41.9 kg. This consumption compromises our health and with global meat production predicted to double by 2020, raises serious concerns about long-term sustainability and animal welfare.
Bowel cancer is now the second largest cancer killer in Australia. High consumption of red and processed meat has been linked to both bowel cancer1 and the increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Globally, the growing demand for meat is leading to increased deforestation, water usage and climate change with the UN identifying the livestock industry as one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.
It has also created the number one animal welfare issue in the world, factory farming.
Australia’s annual Meat Free Week will return bigger and better from 23-29 March 2015. The week is dedicated to raising awareness of the amount of meat people eat and the impact it has on human health, the welfare of animals and the environment.
Meat Free Week challenges Australians to sign up to go without meat, including seafood, for seven days. By being sponsored, participants have the opportunity to raise funds for one of three leading charities – Bowel Cancer Australia (health), Voiceless the animal protection institute (animal welfare) and The World Land Trust (environment).
With a growing trend towards meat free or meat-reduced meals and the steady rise of flexitarianism over the past few years (a mainly a plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of meat), Meat Free Week gives people the perfect opportunity to try out new foods, get more veggies in their meals and see whether a meat-reduced diet is for them, even if it’s just one day a week or one week a year.
And for the first time this year, Meat Free Week will also be expanding the campaign into the UK, gaining great traction with great supporters on board including Jamie Oliver, Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney.
This week I had the opportunity to interview Lainie Bracher and Melissa Hobbs, the founders of Meat Free Week – a global campaign to get you thinking about how much meat you eat and the impact that excessive meat consumption has on your health, animals and the environment, while raising money for several leading charities.
In this interview, Melissa and Lainie spoke about their journey and what inspired them to co-found this initiative, how they managed to convince Jamie Oliver to be the ambassador for the campaign as well as some the backlash they have received from vegans and farmers.
I know there are a lot of vegans who disapprove of campaigns that encourage people to eat ‘less’ meat such as Meatless Monday or Meat Free Week as they believe it distinguishes the consumption of other animal products (i.e. eggs or dairy) as being more ethically justifiably when they are all a result of tremendous violence, and it renders eating a small amount of meat any other day as ‘okay’ when it is not. The argument is that if we make an ethical decision to reject something that is morally wrong, then we must reject it all, every day, and not just on certain days.
I have mixed feelings about this ideal. On one hand, I want people to stop eating all animal products completely, but on the other hand I know that it is impossible for a lot of people to make such a drastic change without easing into it over time and I am glad for them to give it a crack without making them feel guilty as sin when they don’t stick to a plant-based diet from the very first day. I think Meat Free Week provides people with this opportunity in a fun and engaging way. It provides education. Education provides knowledge and awareness for people to make an informed choice. Love it or hate it, the campaign certainly has made a big impact with over 4,000 people signing up for the challenge, and raising over $150,000 for charity in its first two years.
So here’s the interview, do leave a comment or two and let me know what you think.
Voiceless – An independent, non-profit think tank focused on raising awareness of animals suffering in factory farming and the kangaroo industry in Australia.
Bowel Cancer Australia – Bowel Cancer Australia works to reduce incidence, death and suffering associated with bowel cancer (aslo known colorectal cancer).
World Land Trust – A charity organisation with a 20 year track record of successful environmental projects.
Here some of the recipes we talked about in the interview and my favourite ones from the Meat Free Week Website:
- Baked Eggplant, Chickpeas and Green Chilli – Bill Granger
- Avocado and Lemon Zest Spaghetti
- Tofu, Walnut & Asparagus Stir Fry
- Tofu, Walnut & Chickpeas Salad
- Kale, Quinoa and Roasted Pumpkin Pilaf – Taste.com.au
- Sweet Potato Brownies – Ella Woodword
- Vegan Cinnamon Rolls – Taste.com.au
- Superfood Bread – Ella Woodword
Note: You can also check out my recipe page for some plant based recipes and inspiration
Restaurant List – As picked by Chef and Meat Free Week Ambassador, Simon Bryant’s
- Veg out in St Kilda
- Shakahari South Melb
- Lord of the Fries Brunswick st Fitzroy is kind of clever and quite good
- Iku various locations
- Yuli’s in Surry Hills
- Zen house adelaide city East
- Bliss organic adelaide central market precinct
- Minestra in Prospect, not all vego but awesome vego and vegan choices
- I usually go to Hanamans and order vego
- The Green Edge
- Mondo Organics – not vego but offers really good vego/vegan options
- Coming soon
Join the Meat Free Week
Meat Free Week is on 23rd – 29th March 2015. You can check out the Meat Free Week website or their social media channels to learn how you can be part of this great event.
- Website: meatfreeweek.org
- Facebook: Meat Free Week
- Twitter: @meatfreeweekorg
- Instagram: @meatfreeweek
- Hashtag: #meatfreeweek
Here are the two really important things people can do to support Meat Free Week:
1. Sign up for Meat Free Week OR if not participating, donate. It’s easy and you’ll be showing everyone how it’s done!
You can register here to be sponsored as an individual or as a team and encourage others to join you. OR simply donate money directly to the charities here. After registering, downloading the App from App Store or Google Play is a great way to get friends and family on the spot to sponsor you whilst you’re out and about. Monitor progress, share messages, get sponsors via Facebook and have friends and family make a donation right from the fundraisers smartphone.
2. If you’re already vegetarian, sign up and go vegan for the week. And if you’re a vegan (or already living meat free), sign up and sponsor a meat loving friend for the challenge.
So, are you up for challenge? Of course you are! Check out my 7 Tips For 7 Days Of Meat Free Eating if you need some help in getting started. I’ll also be running a giveaway very shortly to help motivate you to inject some greens into your diet so stay tune and subscribe if you don’t want to miss out on the announcement.