Food - A Way Of Life

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An apple orchard. In the background, a ladder stands against a tree and baskets full of apples next to it.

Imagine this for a second. What if everyone on earth stopped eating meat tomorrow? Forever.

Does that sound like a dream come true? Or a nightmare?

It appears to be a great answer to damaging gases in the atmosphere. Yet, is it? Would stripping this from our earth solve climate change? No, it's only one part of a deeper problem.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, of all total carbon emissions produced in the US in 2017, agriculture only contributed 9%.

The top three contributors were transportation (29%), electricity (28%), and industrial usages, (22%).

Private cars appear more dangerous to the environment than cattle.

Don't think I'm ignoring the facts on modern production. I'm aware of what goes on in slaughterhouses. Large parts of the Amazon Rainforest are cleared. We've stripped my country bare for pastoral land. Cows generate methane, contributing to the greenhouse effect.

Remember, there are two conflicting arguments surrounding this issue. Most tend to mix it up.

One is whether meat-eating is right or wrong.

Two is environmental concerns. What unsustainable manufacturing is doing to the planet.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, I commend you for taking a stand to make a difference for this earth. Though it's not so simple for everyone to follow in your footsteps. People with privilege, like you, have the financial freedom and an extensive range available to choose from.

Others aren't so fortunate.

You may wonder where I stand on this debate. Yes, I'm still an omnivore. I live in a divided family. Half are vegetarian. The other is not.

A community I spend a lot of time in has a majority of vegetarians and vegans, with few meat-eaters. They like to discuss the ethics of food. Often when they raise the question, everyone goes around in a circle, explaining their dietary preferences. I always hesitate, worried about sparking an argument.

Here is the reason I give.

I travel, and coming from Australia, a nation I'm not connected to is hard. I live through others I meet, living through experiences, food, and tradition.

Food isn't only sustenance. It's a way of life. I appreciate and discover through their diet, respecting and honouring their traditions as a privileged foreigner. Not only for fuel. An experience. History that's alive.

Asking people to give up meat is asking them to give up a part of their culture.

Picture with me for a second. What would happen if everyone refrained from consuming this permanently?

Yes, farm animals would be safe. Yes, we would all reduce our carbon emissions. Wildlife and the deforested earth would recover. Earth would be better off. Would humans?

So many farmers, impoverished and struggling alike, would lose their jobs.

In Australia alone, 47% of growers are employed in the meat farming sector.

Many countries, like Australia, would suffer. One of our largest industries is, unfortunately, the cattle industry.

Worst of all, thousands of cultural delicacies and national dishes, some considered treasures would be lost.

Can you think of Mexico without tacos, or Japan without fish sushi?

Yes, we would move forward and find alternatives. Markets would pull through. People would make new recipes using ingredients they do have.

No matter how skilled scientists become at creating plant-based substitutes, it's never the same. Due to the amount of processing it goes through, it's far unhealthier.

Food is a breathing cornerstone of many cultures and identities. It brings people together, how we learn from each other and connect.

Food connects us to our culinary past. Losing it is like tearing a piece from our souls.

Don't give up your values. Never stop caring for animals. Don't stop having your occasional roast. Don't forgo your traditions.

All I ask for is a compromise.

We can improve our relationship with food. We can transform the process of production.

Lessen our consumption. Educate and design sustainable systems and support those with our purchases.

Meat cannot be a commodity, something to expect for lunch every week. Too demanding on every aspect of our home.

We can still care for Mother Nature while looking after humanity. Never neglect one for the sake of the other.

What would occur if we appreciated food and the earth for once?

Let's create a world with honest and open discussion. Good practices, limited livestock. A healthy, respectful attitude towards food.

A place where everyone has the right to select what they do and don't eat.

Where no-one can disrespect or abuse our produce, our earth, and the practice of making the food on our table.

They call me a dreamer. I'm not the only one.

Will you stand for an ethical, sustainable solution?

I will.

SOURCES

Sources Of Greenhouse Gases In The US - https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions

Causes Of Greenhouse Gases Globally - https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

Agricultural Workers In Australia - https://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/publications/insights/snapshot-of…

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