I’m a bit of a hero: I have volunteered to go without meat for a whole week. It’s something called Meat Free Week, and it runs March 23-29. The event will raise money for three charities, including World Land Trust, and I’m a council member so I have to set an example.
Meat Free Week is an idea that began in Australia. It makes rather a parade about not being a vegetarian thing. That’s not something that worries me too deeply, because I’ve been a veggie since my first trip to India in 1976, but the idea of vegetarianism does tend to alienate people.
It’s not a campaign against carnivores. The target is the cheap meat industry and the notion that eating meat two or three times a day is a basic human right. Three good reasons for cutting down on meat-intake: your own health, the welfare of farm animals and the enormous environmental consequences of farming for meat.
So the three charities that will benefit are Compassion in World Farming, Beating Bowel Cancer and WLT. WLT will spend the money acquiring land threatened with deforestation by livestock farming: because cattle-ranching and the growth of cereal crops to feed cattle are continuing to destroy the world’s forests.
It’s become a bit of a weird issue. People assume that I’m a veggie because I’m (a) squeamish and (b) sentimental. The three charities chosen for Meat Free Week show there is another side to the argument: but you can’t really talk about it because people who have made other choices feel got at. So I never try.
John Burton, CEO of WLT, also a carnivore, suggests that people should eat less meat of greater quality, and acquire it from local sources: meat as a treat rather than a right. There’s another, more simple answer of course: just find another couple of planets.
Anyway, I present Meat Free Week as something you may like to think about. Tonight I’m going to cook curry: motor paneer and brinjal bhaji. I hope your supper is as good.