Less meat for Lent?

Did you enjoy your Christmas dinner, presuming that you had one?  What did you have?  Most will have had turkey, or perhaps goose or beef.  Maybe fish?  A friend said she had made a nut-roast for herself and her non-veggie family ate most of it, rather than their turkey, as it was so good!  Does it matter what we have?

At Christmas  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” is our prayer.  In the news lately though we’ve heard of fierce storms in some places, droughts or heat waves in others, and freezing temperatures elsewhere.  Climate change is perhaps a more accurate term than global warming.  The only predictable thing about the weather lately seems to be it’s unpredictability!  In living out our love of God and therefore his world, we need to do what we can to ameliorate the effects of our activities on our climate and changing weather patterns, to help those most vulnerable to extreme weather events.

So what can we do?  Here is a suggestion.  It may be too radical for some!

Our vehicles, planes and ships emit 14% of greenhouse gases.  But guess what is a worse polluter?  Meat!

Meat production produces vast quantities of methane from livestock through digestion.  Methane is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to warming the planet.  Other factors are: the production of fertiliser; energy and transport; rain-forests destroyed to provide grazing; and the use of grain as feed, where ten kilos of grain produce 1 kg of meat. (Beef production can use up to five times more biomass for producing 1 kg of animal protein than dairy).

Livestock emissions contribute 14.5-18% of global green house gas emissions. (Figures from the IPCC.)

As India and China progress, they are on target to increase meat consumption by 75% by 2050.  Meat consumption is linked to rising rates of heart disease and cancer.  Healthy levels would be reached if the USA reduced the meat they eat by two thirds, the UK by half and China by a third.

“Meat-eating is an environmental problem, with farming creating an estimated 28% of global greenhouse gases”, the body-builder and movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger told BBC News in December 2015.  “Asking people to go totally vegetarian would be too demanding”, he said.  “It would better to suggest giving up meat once or twice a week”.

So, what about trying Meat-free Mondays and Fish Fridays (>Marine Stewardship Council approved fish of course) this year?  Why not start with Lent.

Ash Wednesday is February 14th, a good way to show your love for God and his earth!  www.theclimatecoalition.org

If you can’t do without meat, you can at least avoid red meat as beef’s carbon footprint is by far the worst. Shrink that Footprint say an average meat eating diet produces 2.5 tonnes carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e) per person, whereas just not eating beef and lamb drops it to 1.9 CO2e, vegetarian 1.7 CO2e and vegan 1.5 CO2e

If you find two meat free days a week easy, you could try becoming non-meat eaters (vegetarian, or even vegan) for Lent, or for longer.

Seek dietary advice first if you have any health issues.  Perhaps start growing your own veg in your garden or allotment, the extra exercise will also be positive!

Adapted with permission by an article from the Wye Church Eco-congregation working group

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