Austrian body-builder Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “you hit like a vegetarian”.
I’ve been having meat-free Mondays for about a year now, and a couple of months ago added Thursday to that.
For me there are a few reasons to do it. Certainly the environment is one. We’ve created an infrastructure around eating meat that’s obviously toxic to the planet. I’m with Arnie, we can do better, and any little bit counts.
I’m doing it for health reasons to. When I compare my diet now to even just 10 years ago there’s a vast difference. I rarely have fast food anymore, and while part of it is economic much of it is for health. Rather than a lunch-time staple (as it would be 3 days out of 5 when I was working) it’s now a monthly treat, if that.
My consumption of soft-drink is down by about 95%. I still drink, though rarely more than one or two, and with the reduction in eating meat I’m now eating more vegetables.
I still eat too much bread, cheese and pasta, and probably chocolate, and should eat more fruit, but I’m much better than I was. I used to be a big eater too – I reckon my average daily intake would be 300-400 calories less than at my peak.
The other reason I eat less meat is ethical. I love my meat, but I’m also an animal lover. The thought of organised butchery oppresses me. I recognise that there’s a food chain. That’s nature, and we’re part of it, but I hate how industrialised it has become. If nothing else there’s an arrogance – or is it hubris? – in how everything is central to our desires, and our consumption.
There’s an unquestioned belief that the world and its resources are there for us to plunder. While that has environmental implications, it’s the philosophy I find offensive. We are part of nature, not above it.
For me the that is epitomised best by how we rear, at great expense, herds of livestock which are then, literally, fed through the sausage machine by the billions. There’s something callous and inhumane in this. The older I get the more it troubles me.
I love animals. They may not be individuals in the sense that we know, but they each have a life. I feel closer to the plains Indian view of life, in which the buffalo they feed off is accorded respect.