Weekday Vegetarian? 11/16/10
"Calling yourself a weekday vegetarian may be like saying you're a little bit pregnant: Impossible." By Laura Cooke
Jennifer Grayson, in her article on the Huffington Post asks the question: Can you be a Weekday Vegetarian? The idea of a “weekday vegetarian” is an idea that, to many committed vegetarians, probably seems like a ridiculous and comfortable and easy way to get the kudos for being a vegetarian without the sacrifice.
As Grayson says:
To hardcore veggies, calling yourself a weekday vegetarian may be like saying you’re a little bit pregnant: Impossible.
Her article goes on to talk about the fact that if you don’t eat meat for ethical reasons, then obviously filling up with burgers and boerewors every weekend is completely hypocritical.
But what if your reasons are not quite so simple and have more do with simply having less meat? This is where Grayson brings in the guy who started this whole Weekday Veggie thing, Graham Hill, the founder of treehugger.com, a blog which focuses on sustainability.
In an article with Time magazine, they talk about how Hill started the Weekday Vegetarian movement as a “compromise that came about after years of trying – and failing – to adhere to a strictly vegetarian diet.” He has been promoting the concept of eating less meat for over a year to help to combat global warming in some way. In conjunction with Hill’s Weekday Vegetarian concept, other meat-reduction initiatives are also gaining momentum, especially the Meat-Free Monday campaign which has seen loads of celebrities and restaurants hop on the band wagon.
But this is not a bad thing, even if it people are not prepared to go the whole hog just yet.
According to studies, the production of livestock accounts for around a fifth of all carbon emissions and that 26% of all the land on Earth is used for grazing, while vast tracts are needed to grow the crops to feed these animals. On top of this, livestock require a huge amount of water and the whole meat industry is generally an extremely environmentally taxing exercise – not to even talk about the ethical issues related to the industrialisation of farming animals.
A slightly frightening study that is also referenced in the Huffington Post article looks at how the anticipated growth of the livestock industry is going to become completely unsustainable and is one of the “key drivers of environmental change.” And when one considers that humans eat twice as much meat as we did in 1961 and that amount is expected to double again by 2050, we are literally eating our way through the Earth.
Why we should forgive the hypocrites
What is becoming clear, is that reasons for being vegetarian are no longer quite as simple as preventing animal suffering. It is becoming far more complex and should form part of trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle which consider all aspects of one’s life in relation to the environment and the effect our actions have on it. This involves all aspects of our lives: how much we buy, how much we throw away and how much meat we eat.
And what seems to be even more important is the mere fact that individuals are striving towards eating less meat is vital.
As Grayson says so eloquently:
By forcing people to place a check mark next to “vegetarian” or “carnivore,” we’re missing the opportunity to encourage people to merely reduce their meat intake.
More and more activists are heading in this direction. Notoriously active People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) agree with this too. In Time, Ingrid Newkirk, president of Peta says, “Absolute purists should be living in a cave…Anybody who witnesses the suffering of animals and has a glimmer of hope of reducing that suffering can’t take the position that it’s all or nothing. We have to be pragmatic. Screw the principle.”
Which brings us back to the Weekday Vegetarian and whether or not this is something worth promoting. As Hill says in the conclusion of his TED Talk:
“So please, ask yourselves, for your health, for your pocketbook, for the environment, for the animals, what’s stopping you from giving weekday veg a shot? After all, if all of us ate half as much meat, it would be like half of us were vegetarians.”
By Laura Cooke