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What does a foodie give up for lent?

March 9, 2011

My friend Sarah just raised a great point. Why would you want to give up something for lent when there is so much great food out there? I’m not religious, so I don’t buy in to the lent thing anyway. And whilst I admire people giving up caffeine or chocolate for the good of their health, I prefer to enjoy everything (well at least try to) in moderation.

So this lent I propose to you to give up bad food. Not just for lent. Forever! And the worst food in my book – factory farmed meat. I pledged after my vegetarian month to no longer eat factory farmed meat and I’d like to encourage everyone I know to join me in this.

Really I think its not even a sacrifice. You get tastier, healthier meat. The animals get happier, longer lives. The farmers get support for running their businesses well and against the pressure of the industry. If you need more convincing, read ‘Eating Animals’ by Jonathan Safranfoer. It almost tempted me to vegetarianism. But I didn’t feel that would be the most positive way I could instigate change.

What about drawbacks? Let’s face facts. Good, free range meat is more expensive. Of course, so it should be. Don’t think you can afford it? Let’s get a little perspective. Buying a whole free range chicken instead of a normal, miserable, insipid tasting factory farmed bird costs you less extra per week than a pint of decent beer in the UK. Less than that box of popcorn at your weekly cinema trip. Far less than the difference between that premium brand of make up and the next, pretty much as good option. Less than you’d spend on one coffee at Starbucks. Very few people can’t find that extra few pounds/R20. And if you really can’t, why not cut down a little? I buy 2 meat items a week now in general. A whole chicken (much more economical) and another joint ideally. And you can cook to make it go further, hopefully some of my blog recipes can help with that!

So where’s the downside? I don’t really think there is one. My reduced but more ethical meat consumption has been good for my health, for the environment, for each animals welfare, for the farmers business and crucially, for my taste buds!

Be careful to criticise. Check who third party audits the labels you use to make your choices. Go to the farm if you can – support the most local, small scale access point. Different meats will be more/less ethically friendly due to the inherent ways the factory farming systems work. Chickens generally seem to get to worst deal – they are easy to put in cages and not kill before you can eat them. Pigs also seem to suffer in this respect. But why not try wild venison in the UK? I can’t imagine its anywhere near commercially viable or practical to factory farm meats like that. South Africa has a wealth of game, so I will be investigating what that provides me with in terms of more ethical alternatives. If you choose to take an ethical stand point on your meat, please let me know what you uncover. I am going to try and create reviews and lists of good and bad products on the page section here and would welcome the input!

Happy eating 🙂

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah Howells (GF Blogger) permalink
    March 9, 2011 5:17 pm

    This blog post has made me feel happy 🙂 I hate even looking at the “basics”/”smartprice” etc meat, it even LOOKS like it is sad. And it’s MEAT for goodness sake, meat can’t show emotion!!

    I have pretty much all but given up meat as I can’t afford it (or beer or cinema popcorn….or even the cinema 😦 😦 ) however when I do buy it I try buy nicer stuff.

    And to make up for the battery/caged eggs I have bought (which I feel eternally guilty for) I am going to adopt lots of ex-battery hens when I have my own house and make them feel loved again.

  2. March 10, 2011 12:13 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly. Local, organic, free range happy meat is the only way.

    Here a link on how chickens experience empathy- previously people thought chickens lacked basic ‘human’ emotions (although I have to wonder how they measured eye temperature in an untraumatic way?)

    http://royalsociety.org/news/Chicken-research-advances-understanding-of-animal-emotion/

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