Saturday, March 23, 2013

Why meat with every dinner? Or why not.

I had a chat with an Afrikaans friend of mine yesterday and it was a reminder that not everyone thinks about food like me (ha ha).
People don't know where the Afrikaans tradition of meat with every meal comes from and not everyone knows why they shouldn't eat meat every day anymore.

We associate "Afrikaans" with "boer" and that probably comes from our country's history of most farmers being Afrikaans speaking. Most farms were mixed with many crops and animals as the product of the farm. Families were to a large degree, self-sustaining and you ate what you had. They had meat and so meat came up with every meal. My mother-in-law talks about breakfast on a Free State farm being an all meat affair- sausages, kidneys, bacon, steaks- and that is just breakfast!

So now a braai has come to mean only meat cooked on an open fire.
My friend said she had just thought about me not eating meat and couldn't imagine a meal without it as she always started with meat when planning her meals.

It got me thinking. Oh no, you cry! Well, think about it for yourself. We are no longer all farmers with all our food in our back garden so, it costs a lot in money terms to have meat with every dinner (let's not assume every meal).
It costs a lot in health terms too since most of the meat consumed is from a feed lot where the animals are pumped full of hormones, anti-biotics and other poisons. The animals live in such appalling and unnatural conditions that it is impossible to do it any other way. And that brings me to another point of my conscience. If you saw how these chops and steaks were treated before they arrive on your plate, your humanity would balk. If you can find free-range meat, it is more expensive than the feed lot stuff but worth it from many angles. "I can't afford it" you cry. Eat less, better quality meat, I say.

Then there is the use of water. I can't remember the exact number but I think it was about 20L of water is used to slaughter and process 1 chicken. Consider how many chickens your family eats in a year. Our conservative family eats a maximum of 24. That means 480L of water just for our family. How many do you eat? And your neighbour, and their neighbour? That's a lot of water in an arid country. And that is only chicken.

I could go forever on this topic and it is a very emotive subject and for an apparently intelligent species we do like to tell ourselves "real lies". So here is what I think. The world should eat a lot less meat. How about every second day for starters? And I can't believe that we are so lazy or non-creative that we can't come up with alternatives which our families will love. Try butternut and chickpea Thai curry or what about Jamie Oliver's caponata or a grand pizza with roasted veggies and pesto.

And do have a look at this link. It is eye-opening for the person who actually cares about their footprint on the planet. Please pass it on to those who are beginning to question their over-consumption too.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't eaten (red) meat for the past 23 years and have finally got RMan down to meat once a week - otherwise it's chicken / ostrich, or homegrown veg, or (sustainably caught) fish.

    The video is extremely thought provoking, and should be watched by EVERYONE. Pity it doesn't show how many hits it's had. Thanks for sharing.