Today, at a WWF event in Cardiff, I stood up and said the unsayable. I talked about diet. Gasp! The room was quiet – is she really saying out loud that a population heading for 9 billion humans has to learn to eat sustainably? Is she really saying out loud that eating less meat is the only way to live kindly on this one single planet? Is she really saying that compassion and sustainability turn out to be two sides of the same coin?
Well yes she is. I’m not attacking anyone for eating meat, but asking that they think about where it comes from and how it is treated. I’m asking you to think about the fact that the 95% of non-human animals on this planet are those we breed to eat. I’m asking you to think about just how much land is required to feed them all. Above all I’m asking you to think about how our intensive farming practices are a huge part of the decimation of wildlife in this sorry world. Is it really fair to kill hundreds of orangutans just so that we can have a bit of cheap palm oil in our Ginger Nuts?
So lets not have this conversation in hushed tones lest we offend anybody. Let’s get it out in the open. Either we cut our own numbers, or we change our daily menu.
If you feel your eating habits are in question you are probably right. I’m not saying everyone should go vegan (though think how much help that would be !), I am saying that if you are eating meat 3 times a day you are not only living on a planet 3 times the size of the one we have actually got, you are contributing to suffering and hunger, because the grain used to feed the animals is grain which should rightly be feeding people.
58% of our wildlife is under dire threat. Wildlife populations have more than halved in 40 years. The fish population has declined 36%. If you are eating meat simply because you like the taste, then either save it for a special treat or take a smaller portion. If you are eating it out of tradition, then think how many traditions have not stood the test of time and have been abandoned. Should animal sacrifice go the way of human sacrifice?
If you are going to eat it, always check that the meat comes from an approved RSPCA supplier ( if it doesn’t, you shouldn’t touch it anyway) and the fish is MSC approved. Those of us in the UK who can afford to buy Fairtrade and Organic, should do so whenever possible (and that’s most of us).
So much of our beloved wildlife is under real and imminent threat of extinction, yet we can do something, but it has to be now. So try a meat-free Monday, or a dairy-free Friday. Every single action in the right direction is going to help.
Once the hedgehogs, the turtle doves, the crickets and the butterflies have gone it will be too late. We only have now.