It’s been a little while since I’ve written – been very busy preparing for COP, moving houses in Copenhagen, and so on. But with all this ‘not eating’, it’s encouraged me to reflect on diets and their contribution to the climate problem.
In truth, the indulgent eating habits of many in the over-developed, over-consuming world are amongst our most inequitable daily habits. They are probably also amongst the easiest of our habits to change.
Unlike those other low-carbon lifestyle changes, like ‘stop driving your car and catch the bus instead’ – where the alternatives simply may not exist, or may be really really inconvenient, due to poor government services (get to work lobbying them, people!) – the alternatives to our high-impact western diet are very readily available: just choose the vegetarian option!
First of all, I want to say that we are *not* advocating fasting, as a way to reduce your carbon emissions or planetary impact! We are fasting as a deeply moral form of political protest, demonstrating through our personal sacrifice that we are willing to make deep personal change, that we are ready for the sustainability era to begin. We at CJF think that everyone, everywhere, should be able to access good, healthy food, and be able to eat their fair share! Just ‘enough’. Not too much.
So, now that we’ve made that very clear, I’ll get on with the rest of my post.
As many of you would know from my previous blog-updates, I have done a *lot* of cooking while I’ve been on this fast. Probably more than in the past few months combined. But no licking my fingers, and it’s all cooking for other people. i just so enjoy the smells and flavours! 🙂
A few nights ago I cooked a delicious (or so I’m told) Indian-vegetarian meal for about 8 people in the house that I was staying in, as a way to thank them for their amazing hospitality. I made Palak Paneer, though because proper Indian paneer is so difficult to get in Denmark, it was ‘Palak Fetta’ instead (Spiced creamy spinach with Fetta cheese chunks), plus an eggplant-and-chickpea tomato-based curry (with lots of chilli!), served on lemon-cinnamon rice. It was a good feed in anyone’s books, whether you’re a meat-eater or a die-hard vegetarian like myself. (And if you’re a vegan – much respect – only the ‘Palak Fetta’ would have been inappropriate.)
My friend Erin also made some apple crumble for dessert, out of apples straight from the apple tree in her aunt’s garden. Delicious!
A vegetarian diet, or simply a lower-meat-consuming diet, is a more earth-friendly, climate-friendly one, and is also more equitable. The more developed (or the more ‘over-developed’) a country is, the greater likelihood that they eat lots of meat, and in particular, beef. To eat beef frequently is an indulgence that is only afforded to relatively few – the relatively rich – on our fine planet. Additionally, over-consumption of meat products has been shown to lead to diseases of ‘affluenza‘. As outlined here, “The American Dietetic Association says that vegetarians have “lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; … lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.” Vegetarians, on average, are about one-third as likely to be overweight as meat-eaters.”
So going vegetarian (or largely vegetarian) could not only help with global warming, but could help with our personal health as well.
That isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for the cow in our agricultural system. I still believe that meat and dairy can be ‘done right’ – using cows as work animals and dairy providers, and using their manure to fertilise vegetable crops, for example. And it must be acknowledged that meat/fish consumption (although not usually beef in particular) is particularly crucial for those populations from very cold climates, where meat has always occupied a primary place in the diet – in both indigenous diets and in the diets of colonisers.
I’ve copied a short article from an Indian publication below for consideration. [link Stop eating beef to cut emissions, says Jairam, but text not included here]
As a final note, I think it’s important to note that consuming less meat won’t make you any less happy. But it will make the planet, and future generations, feel a whole lot better! And the warm inner glow that comes from knowing you are doing the right thing has got to count as a ‘benefit’ for you as well.
Some may recall a similarly themed discussion of eating “just enough” and awareness of diet’s impact in the post Zen and the art of planetary maintenance.
On Day 14 of the Fast Anna discussed fear and temptation
Other posts on this blog about the Climate Justice Fast
“Over the 20th century, ocean temperatures in the North Atlantic main development region warmed during peak hurricane season, with the most pronounced warming occurring over the last four decades.” Earth Gauge
We give our consent every moment that we do not resist.
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