Easy on Da Meat

I saw an interesting interview last night on ABC1 7.30 report where by Dr Rajendra Pachauri said that a major commitment was required by world leaders at Copenhagen to avert catastrophic climate change.  If you missed it you can catch it here at ABC iView.

Well it was no news to me, but the piece that caught my attention was his specific reference to meat consumption and that it was contributing greatly to our global emissions.

As more and more people eat bigger quantities of meat, they increase their carbon footprint in many ways from the mass production of livestock.  Here is an extract of the transcript from the interview so that you can understand what I am on about.

Dr Pachauri said the public too has a role to play in reducing emissions and that eating one less meat meal a week was a significant way for humans to reduce their carbon footprint. He said he believed the world is consuming far too much meat and believes an important factor in the climate change debate is diet.

“I’m not asking people to become vegetarians, all I’m saying is that lifestyle changes are going to be extremely important and one place to start would be with diet. I’m telling everybody to reduce consumption of meat, because you would be healthier and so would the planet. It would make an enormous difference and it also makes a very powerful statement that human beings are prepared to change their lifestyles,” said Dr Pachauri.

“Often I’m asked the question where would we get our proteins from…and I tell people that there are two specialists you might consult on deriving proteins from plant material. One of them is called an elephant and the other is called a horse. If they can get enough proteins from plant material, so can human beings,” he said.

“Livestock are one of the biggest contributors to climate change, producing 18% of the world’s total greenhouse gases according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. By having just one meat-free day a week individuals can dramatically reduce their carbon footprint, help to slow global warming and lessen their impact on the natural environment,” he added.

Since Kim, our kids and I started our journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle, we have about 3-4 meat free days a week.  It has been quite a simple transition, mainly because once we found how abundant our garden is, we didn’t want to waste any of it.  So it was off to do a little research on delicious dishes to prepare with vegetables and dairy products and eggs.  Yes, we still eat dairy and eggs, and haven’t taken the vegan route, as we have chooks and as you have probably guessed by now, I love to make cheese!

We could probably do more, but seeing that Dr Pachauri suggests having just one meet free day a week, I reckon we are doing all right!

So for this week, which just happens to be National Vegetarian Week, I have pledged to try veg (not that I don’t already).  If anyone is thinking of giving it a go, which I wholeheartedly support, you could do no worse than trying my wonderful Chickpea and Potato Curry, that has won the hearts of hundreds of meat eaters and top it off with my equally famous Brinjal Pickle.

I urge you to pledge to go veg just for one meal this week.  You may even suprise yourself and your family by making the best and tastiest meal you have had in months.  Eating vegetarian is more interesting than just eating a veggie burger at the golden arches!  You will discover a enormous world of culenary delights that will tantilise your tastebuds.  We did, and we will never look back. 

Fighting the effects of climate change has never been so simple and enjoyable.


  1. says

    You make some valid points in your comment! I agree that it’s important to be analytical about what “experts” say.

    From some of the reading that I’ve done in various places we (western we) have doubled our meat consumption in the last fifty years (doubled in the last 20 years for developing countries such as China), and according to various “experts” we eat between 2 and 5 times more meat than we need for good health. While the “experts” don’t agree on the quantity, they generally agree that we eat too much – I’m interested in the topic and have done a bit of reading around.
    Part of the issue with meat consumption is that it can be a symbol of wealth and social status, particularly in developing countries.

    I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t mind a juicy lamb chop, but with our growing global population and (thanks to fast food) our ever increasing consumption, something’s gotta give.

  2. says

    Eating less meat is a good thing, but…

    I have a HUGE issue with “experts” like that.

    We are not horses. We are not elephants. We are humans, omnivores, and have the digestive system of an omnivore, not a herbivore. (As a side note, look at how much time herbivores spent eating. Think about it!)

    If some one wants to talk about the benefits of any lifestyle choice, that’s great, and presents an opportunity for all of us to learn. But I hate misinformation and propaganda, and comments like that one (that I know are 100% wrong) always make me disregard the rest of what they have to say.

  3. says

    Great post Gavin. Changing the food we eat was actually where we focussed most of our effort when we started striving to decrease our ecological footprint. I’ll be honest – I didn’t really appreciate how big the ecological impact of our food was before that. We still eat meat – but only once or twice a week and when we do we only eat sustainably harvested wild meat – taking the ecological impact of farming out of the equation.

    I particularly love that wild pest meat such as goat and rabbit is now easily available from supermarkets. Eating these pests actually has a positive environmental impact as they cause considerable habitat damage in the wild.

  4. says

    I also try not to call my meals without meat ‘Vegetarian’, because I believe that being Vegetarian is a lifestyle choice, not just what you leave out of a meal! I prefer No-meat meals… but having said that, V for vegetarian is an easy global symbol, which most people know what that means (most people, some still insist that they are vegetarian, because they only eat fish every now & then! LOL)

  5. says

    Hi Gavin – I have NO IDEA where you got that clip from. Nuts!

    We keep a vegetarian home, eat veg, and try to eat as local as possible. But it’s not about labels, and I try not to use them these days.

    I don’t think labels and categories are helpful – I think they’re divisive and scare people off/create anger, resentment, “holier than thou-ness” and fear. So I don’t call myself a vegetarian any more, even though I still choose to eat that way.

    It’s about everyone making what changes they feel they can, an supporting their locally produced sustainable food sources.

    Some food sources, of course, are not sustainable at all at the moment. Most fish are a good example of this, due to our terrible treatment of the oceans.

    I think eating less meat is a HUGE part of the solution, but I also think that the other food choices we make can make a huge difference too, such as choosing local, free range chicken, turkey or lamb instead of fish and beef.

    The footprint is much, MUCH lower for chicken and lamb than beef, and fisheries are on the brink of collapse worldwide.

    So everything is about choices. As for me, though, I can’t wait until my strawberries are ready. Carbon miles: zero! Yum!

  6. says

    Hi Gav, what a funny YouTube clip…………..way too crazy for me. We have also greatly cut the amount of meat in our diet but as yet not committing to going full time veg.

  7. Anonymous says

    I love it. As long as people reduce their meat consumption, that should reduce demand and the price of meat will fall. More for me! wahoo!

  8. says

    I cook vegetarian fairly frequently, but I have also taken steps to reduce the impact of the meat we do eat. We raise one pig a year, buy one quarter of a grass fed, local steer a year, and eat a few of our own kids (goats, not people) and chickens. That’s all the meat we eat at home, and it’s all local and naturally raised, and it’s only 4 to 6 in individual animals.

  9. ecoMILF says

    Hey Gavin,

    You’re doing amazing if you only eat meat a few times a week. Everyone is welcome over to ecoMILF. I have an entire section called “fork-worthy” dedicated to meatless meals that have been a huge success with my hearty eating boys. I also have a few articles up on raising the vegetarian child which may answer some people’s nutritional questions. Ciao. Meagan.

  10. says

    You just missed my Eat Less Meat Month Challenge for September!! It was a good kick in the butt for us to get back to only eating meat a couple of times a week (and trying to make it low-impact or eco/ethical meat too)… and though I do need to do a Eat Less Dairy challenge too, next month I need to sort out my Be Prepared-ness!

    Check out my version of African Peanut Soup with Red Beans, that I discovered during the challenge… and some Fresh Spring Rolls that are great for the warmer weather too…



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