By Darrion Narine
Programme Coordinator, CCSJ/AMMR
Once upon a time, not too long ago, I was a ‘meat mouth’. In every house lime or all-inclusive party, a plate of meat would be near to me. However, in recent months I have made a move towards the consumption of less meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products.
For the average Trinbagonian, a diet without meat is like Trinidad and Tobago without Carnival. However, when we take a deep dive into the dangers of worldwide meat consumption, we realise that this is not only an ethical issue but also a justice issue.
In recent years, growing meat consumption has had massive environmental and health impacts. According to globalagriculture.org, “nearly 60% of the world’s agricultural land is used for beef production, yet beef accounts for less than 2% of the calories that are consumed throughout the world”.
This means that there is an immediate threat to food security, since most of our agricultural lands are used for food production that is not sustainable. Additionally, animal torture has been growing, since caged rearing of animals in small spaces has been on the rise in corporate farming. Animals suffer before they are killed and, in many instances, they do not die immediately after the slaughter. This is indeed against our spiritual teachings since the suffering of animals and God’s living creatures should never occur.
Capitalism across the globe has spiralled out of control and greed has become a main tenet of many industries. The meat industry has been operating for many decades without analysing the environmental and health impacts on the world’s population.
The feed and chemicals used for animal husbandry have resulted in a high usage of fresh water and has also polluted many fresh water sources. Additionally, futurelearn.com states that livestock farming has resulted in the release of many greenhouse gases through the destruction of forest-ecosystems and methane release from decaying manure.
Aside from the environmental impacts, there are massive health impacts associated with meat consumption. I recently viewed the Netflix documentary Game Changers which challenges many myths/beliefs around the benefits of meat consumption.
One of the popular arguments is that the consumption of meat is the best source of protein. This fallacy has been challenged in many different scholarly articles which show that plants can provide all the proteins that our bodies require for sustenance and a balanced diet.
On the other hand, high meat consumption has a direct relation with many cardiovascular diseases. There are many ways in which meat consumption impacts our health and this is the reason a number of celebrities have made a movement towards a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. The most notable of these being Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former well-known bodybuilder who supports a more vegan diet.
My intention is not to tell a meat eater to move to a strictly vegan diet but to encourage people to not eat meat, fish, dairy, or poultry at least 2–3 days per week.
In my experience, since I have reduced my meat consumption and taken up a vegetarian diet, I have experienced a rise in energy and alertness. Additionally, I find myself being able to focus more deeply during my prayer and meditation.
I encourage you to try it and to continue to be more conscious about the impact the foods that we eat have on ourselves and the world around us.
May the joy of the risen Christ be with you all.
The CCSJ will be focusing on environmental and ‘Laudato Si’ projects in 2022. We ask for your support. Please donate:
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SOCIAL JUSTICE QUOTE
FOR THE WEEK
“In his parable [Good Samaritan], Jesus does not offer alternatives; he does not ask what might have happened had the injured man or the one who helped him yielded to anger or a thirst for revenge. Jesus trusts in the best of the human spirit; with this parable, he encourages us to persevere in love, to restore dignity to the suffering and to build a society worthy of the name.” (71)
– Pope Francis, Fratelli Tuitti
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee