Adopt a vegetarian diet
On a per capita basis, Australia is one of the largest meat consumers in the world; we consume approximately 118kg of meat per annum per capita (1998 ABS). Meat products contribute almost half of our entire ecological footprint (or impact on the environment). There are three compelling reasons to stop eating meat:
- To help us value life. The cruel treatment of animals for food production (e.g. veal calves, battery chickens) and our doublethink disassociation of meat from the killing of a living, feeling creature, all contribute to increasing our acceptance of suffering in both animals and people. Respect for life and living things in general needs to be nurtured for us to be more compassionate toward other living creatures.
- To improve our health. An American Dietetic Association report of 2003 found that vegetarians have lower body mass indices than non-vegetarians, as well as lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; vegetarians also show lower blood cholesterol levels; lower blood pressure; and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.
To help the environment. The meat production for the average Australian impacts the environment in 3 main ways (per annum):
- Greenhouse gas emissions of over 1,500kg CO2 (equivalent to an additional car's average emissions per annum)
- Water usage of over 35,000 litres (equivalent to 30+ times the average individuals household water use)
- Land disturbance of more than 1.3 hectares.
How to do it now!
Learn about vegetarian diet, cooking and products. Making the shift from carnivore to herbivore can be a challenge. Learn how to replace meat in your cooking. An easy first step is to replace the meat you use in a few of your regular meals with a meat alternative. Many meat alternative products use soy-based ingredients as a meat replacement. Many are listed on the Vegetarian Network Victoria web site. For those keen enough to try there are local groups and sites eager to assist your change with advice and support.
- Vegetarian Network (VIC)
- The Australian Vegetarian Society (NSW)
- Vegetarian Society of South Australia
Some great vegetarian sites include:
- Help protect animals from cruelty and death. Given that the health and nutritional benefits of a vegetarian diet are the same (if not better) that a meat diet, we are causing untold animal suffering and death purely to satisfy our taste.
Understand the impact of meat production on the environment. Contemplate the environmental impact of the meat you consume.
- Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to an additional car's average emissions (per annum).
- Water usage equivalent to 10+ times the average individuals household water use.
- Land disturbance of more than 1.5 hectares.
Why is this action important?
Developing more compassion for living creatures, improving our health and eliminating almost half of your ecological footprint in one action make this the big one.