go meat free for a week

A quick heads up that from 18th - 24th March, the lovely ladies behind Meat Free Week are asking us all to go sans meat. I'll be doing it and I urge you all to join me. Twenty one meals with no animal flesh. Easy!

This guy is 97 (if not 102) years old. He lives in Ikaria, a BlueZone, and survived cancer not by medication but by living a clean lifestyle. He eats a lot a veg and a little meat. Via nytimes.

why go meat free for a week?
1. Respect. It's a resource-intensive business. I've said it before here on this blog, I love meat and so treat it and the many resources, hard work and dedication that goes into getting it to my plate with the utmost respect.

2. We're simply eating too much of it right now. The latest Australian Dietary Guidelines urge us to cut our meat consumption by half - that's how 'too much of it' we're currently having. It's not just a sustainability issue. Too much meat is no good for our long-term health. In fact one of the 9 things that the oldest-living populations in the world (called Blue Zones) have in common is the lack of large amounts of meat in their diet. These populations eat mostly plants: pulses, vegetables, nuts, meat on average just once a week. Most Australians eat meat at least once a day. Then there's the antibiotic resistance issue.

3. There's the ethical issue. If we don't like the idea of raising animals in cages for the sake of a pork bun, then we need to take the pressure off farming systems by eating less meat.

4. You'll save money too. Vegetables and beans have many benefits, not the very least that they are a super cheap grub. Why just yesterday I purchased enough beans for 6 meals for $6. THAT'S ONE SWEET BUCK A MEAL!

seafood is meat too
The seafood industry is under the same pressure as land-based food sectors, and it's causing absurd trends like 72% of seafood eaten in Australia being imported from countries like Thailand, Vietnam and China - countries that rate very low for responsible fishing practices (Australia ranks no. 4, Thailand no.42 out of 53 countries ranked). So I'll be excluding seafood and fish for the week too.

what about beyond the week?
This isn't about converting anyone to a vegetarian. It's about learning to respect meat as it should be respected. Eating less of it (and more veg) and paying a little more for quality, ethically and sustainably-produced meat is the way to go.

if you're a vegetarian
You can still get involved by encouraging others around you to take up the challenge of a meat free week. Here's a few ideas.

you can fundraise if you like
You can ask your friends, family and colleagues to sponsor your mini expedition into the world of vegetables and the money will go to Voiceless. Spreading the word about what you're doing and why is also going to be key.

i need recipes!
Thankfully the folk at Sustainable Table are putting together a little something that will come in extremely handy during the process, so stay tuned via their facebook, twitter or blog pages next week.

You'll also find a plethora of meat free veggies on the Meat Free Week site, and of course, my friday nom noms tend to be meat free.

share your photos
Will you be taking the challenge? Do you have any favourite meat free dishes you'll be turning to? Share them with me during Meat Free Week via twitter, facebook or instagram using the tag @econest_maria and I'll do a little #meatfree shout out for you!

Let's do this!


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