What is World Meat Free Week?

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st June 2018

Can substituting one non-meat meal in a week help contribute to a healthier planet?

World Meat Free Week is hoping to change the way we look at the inclusion of meat in our diets by encouraging everyone to switch one of their meals during the week to a meat-free one. It also aims to get people thinking and talking about meat consumption and production with the ultimate objective to swap “one meal for a healthier planet."

The global initiative takes place between June 11 and June 17 and aims to put a spotlight on the importance of reducing our meat intake to help curtail the impact that this is having on our planet.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United States (FAO) expects that there will need to be an extra 200 million tonnes of meat produced annually as the population is expected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050. It also reports that the developed world will need to reduce their meat consumption by 50%.

What is World Meat Free Week?

World Meat Free Week is hoping to encourage restaurants and consumers to consider moving to a more plant-based focused diet by highlighting the detrimental environmental effects of eating meat has on the environment, animal welfare as well as our health. 

WMFW Paul Svensson Rodbeta sri rachadressing getyoghurt 3
Credit: Paul Svensson

There have been a number of chefs who have been spearheading this campaign such as Paul Svensson and Jessica Frej alongside food and lifestyle bloggers Coco’s Tea Party, Jävligt Gott, Jenna: A Balanced Belly and Food Fitness Flora and more.

Many celebrities have also committed their support to World Meat Free Week. Lead singer of The Wanted Jay McGuiness is known for promoting his vegetarian lifestyle on social media to his fans and is joined by the likes of comedian John Bishop and British treasure Joanna Lumley to educate on the benefits of cutting back on meat.

How does eating meat impact on our environment?

A book from the Union of Concerned Scientists called The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choice found meat consumption to have the second most adverse effect on the environment, just behind transportation. Making one pound of beef creates 17 times more water pollution and 20 times more habitat alteration than making its caloric equivalent in pasta.

It also reported that meat production causes 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all emissions from global transport combined according to EPA data on Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

You can even calculate the environmental impact of cutting out meat from your diet with World Meat Free Weeks handy calculator.

What are the health implications of eating meat?

The World Health Organisation has established that diet is connected to 30% cases of cancer in Western countries and up to 20% in developing countries. Links between the two have forced us to review how we look at food.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that vegetarians and vegans enjoy a lower risk of developing heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes, and lower body mass indexes, as well as lower overall cancer rates.

A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that an extra daily serving of unprocessed red meat - e.g. steak, hamburger, pork, etc – can increase the risk of dying prematurely by 13%. The same study found that eating processed red meats like hot dogs, sausage and bacon can increase the risk by 20%.

Kebab Skewers Vegan Fillets Recipe Web
Kebab Skewers Vegan Fillets 

How can I effectively substitute meat in my diet?

Reducing meat consumption by just one meal can have a significant impact. One meat-free meal is the carbon equivalent of boiling 388 kettles or eight days of water for personal use. Cutting out meat from one meal is a dietary fat reduction equivalent to the weight of two teaspoons and has the same amount of calories as one chocolate cookie.

Vegetarian and other specialist diet recipes are readily available online as the lifestyle has seen a surge in popularity over the past decade, but why not try some of our favourites?

Tuscan tomato soup with basil pesto recipe by Jonathan Harvey-Barnes

3 Michelin star chef Jocelyn Herland creates a dish of  cooked vegetable with olives and tomatoes 

Are there any other alternatives?

A Mediterranean-style diet has become increasingly more common and popular. The diet is rich in plant-based and doesn't have a focus on meat. Instead, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds make up the majority of your food intake. Fat becomes a much heavier component of your meals, accounting for up to 40% of your calories. Cheeses and yoghurts, along with fish, should remain present in your diet whilst red meat is only eaten occasionally.

Find some delicious new meat free recipes here

By getting involved in World Meat Free Week you’ll be helping to improve your health and sustainability as well as that of your friends, family and colleagues, but you will reduce your carbon footprint, and help to drive the change needed.

By Tamara Hough

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st June 2018

What is World Meat Free Week?