27th October 2014

Meat Free Mondays

Jose Harrington explores the benefits of cutting down our meat intake.

As you are reading this you might be tucking into a yummy, juicy bacon buttie and being meat free may be a long way from your mind. However, this clever initiative is starting to catch on. Meat Free Monday is a campaign started and funded by Paul McCartney along with his daughter Stella. Together, they promote giving up eating meat for the whole of Monday (would you believe?!) for a wide range of reasons. Because when you really start to think about it, eating meat has a bigger impact than just thinking of the cute little animals.

As a Geography student, a large proportion of the things we learn is linked to how the world is changing, more often than not, for the worse. Yes, this is along with our busy colouring-in schedule. For example, greenhouse gas emissions are globally showing a constant rate of increase. What does this have to do with meat, I hear you cry? A UN study in 2006 showed that the livestock industry was responsible for an astonishing 18 per cent of man’s global greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to this factor you have the impact of deforestation for cattle ranches, cattle’s extraordinary methane emissions and the extra food needed to feed livestock. This is all without even looking at the issue of animal rights and welfare.

Meat Free Monday may appeal to you from a financial point of view as a cash-strapped student. The average UK family spends £13.10 on meat and fish and just £6.70 on fresh fruit and veg every week. Imagine how much extra dosh you would have if you spent a bit more on veg or those tasty lentils rather than meat. For really cheap veg, head down to the Curry Mile’s superstore for an expansive and cheap selection.

The Students’ Union now has special promotions in place on Meat Free Mondays—half price on certain meat free dishes, including the veggie pizza which is pretty good if you are ever peckish.
Not all vegetarians choose to go meat-free for animal rights or environmental issues; health is also an important factor. We all know vegetarians have a healthy reputation, but does this claim actually stack up? Eating meat less than three times a week prevents 31000 deaths from heart disease every year in the UK. If everyone was able to eat meat less than three times a week, it is estimated that the NHS would save over £1.2 billion a year. Although Meat Free Monday is only one day a week, everyone has to start somewhere!

McCartney’s meat-free mission is being supported by several high-profile celebrities and chefs, including Yotam Ottolenghi. My twist on his Shakshuka recipe is available here. The Meat Free Monday website also has lots of great recipes and more information. So why not give Meat Free Mondays a go and feel totally self-satisfied all Monday long!

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