Why we launched Meat Free Week: founders

Here, Melissa Dixon and Lainie Bracher, the founders of Meat Free Week, defend their campaign, which is receiving serious backlash from producers, industry organisations and passionate meat-eaters.

Our hope is that Meat Free Week (18-24 March) will create conversation around meat consumption and production.

It’s not about encouraging people to become vegetarian or to give up meat for life. Rather it aims to raise awareness of factory farming and reduce meat consumption (all meat, including fish).

Factory farming is a method that raises animals for meat (and other animal products such as eggs and milk) as if they’re machinery and disregards the fact that they have an emotional experience of the world.

It causes the most suffering to the largest number of animals in Australia – more than 500 million every year. The animals mainly impacted are chickens and pigs.

In terms of meat consumption, Australians eat 190,000 tonnes of meat per annum and with an average of 120kg of annual meat consumption per capita, Australians are ranked as the second biggest meat eaters in the world (behind the USA).

According to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australians eat almost three times as much meat as the world average.

While developing Meat Free Week, we were most surprised by the overwhelming body of research on the detrimental effect meat production has on the planet and its resources.

There are massive consequences if we choose to remain on our current path of a western diet based around meat, notably chronic water shortages within the next 40 years. The world, quite literally, cannot sustain the amount of meat we’re eating.

The question we keep asking ourselves; what’s it going to take for people to start talking about this?

For too long the debate has been around whether you’re a meat eater or not; it’s a highly emotional issue and all that’s been achieved is a greater divide.

Very few people are talking about responsible and ethical meat consumption and that is what we aim to do with Meat Free Week. And if animal welfare or the environment is not enough, then we hope at least the issue of human health will get people thinking and talking.

Eating less meat does not need to be as challenging as it seems. With the huge choice of fresh produce we have in this country, eating less meat can be both delicious and easy!

We are not suggesting people give up meat entirely; rather we hope that by understanding the benefits of eating less meat, consumers will choose to make a serious commitment to reducing their meat consumption.

We hope that when they do eat meat, they only choose meat that is ethically produced and sourced.

Meat Free Week, held from 18 to 24 March, is a national week dedicated to raising awareness of factory farming and reducing meat consumption. Funds raised will go to animal protection organisation, Voiceless.

Donations can be made until 30 June 2013. For more information about the campaign, click here.

Image: Melissa Dixon and Lainie Bracher


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