Meat Free Week is kicking off in a few weeks and as one of the original founders, I’m thrilled that this campaign is still going strong. Meat consumption is something close to my heart. We eat too much. Period. And it’s having a devastating impact on the planet – animal welfare, the environment and yes, human health!
For those of you new to Meat Free Week (where have you been?), it challenges Australians to try a plant-based menu for seven days and raise funds for a great cause. The campaign aims to get people thinking and talking about how much meat they’re eating, and the impact that consumption has.
When we launched the campaign in 2013 with the help of a Voiceless grant, we set out to raise awareness of factory farming and the negative impact our growing meat consumption was having on animals. It soon became startling clear that there was a strong a connection with the environment. The headlines of the Amazon on fire in global news over the last few weeks is testament to what we were looking at years ago.
Then the third piece of the puzzle fell into place – the health implications of eating too much meat. At that time, we partnered with Bowel Cancer Australia, which now runs the campaign and have taken it into new markets.
I love how a campaign that started on the topic of animal welfare (that no one wanted to talk about) is now focused on health and specifically, bowel cancer – another topic that no-one really wants to talk about. And yet, we should.
According to Bowel Cancer Australia’s National Community Engagement Manager Claire Annear, “Australians rank among the top in the world when it comes to meat consumption and 95 per cent of us don’t eat enough vegetables or wholegrains.
“Bowel cancer is Australia’s second deadliest cancer with 103 people dying each week from the disease.
“The latest findings show that eating three servings of wholegrains a day, such as brown rice, can reduce your risk of bowel cancer by 17 per cent.”
Studies show that bowel cancer risk increases by 17 per cent per 100g of red meat consumed per day and by 18 per cent per 50g of processed meat consumed per day.
On average, Australians consume 565 grams of red meat per week. Research recommends limiting the amount to 500g per week and avoiding processed meats such as bacon, ham and salami, which have been classified by The World Health Organisation as carcinogenic to humans.
I don’t eat meat but know plenty who do. I’ll be encouraging all of them to sign up for Meat Free Week this year. They’ll be in good company as the campaign continues to have the support of local and international celebrity campaigners and chefs such as Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney of Meat Free Monday, Anna Jones, Bill Granger, Simon Bryant and Rowie Dillon. And, not only will they have the opportunity to raise money for a great cause, they might just discover a world beyond meat – one that is tasty, kind, and good for them AND the planet!
When: 23 – 29 September 2019
For more info, meat-free recipe ideas and to sign up, visit meatfreeweek.org.
Everyone is invited to take the Meat Free Week challenge and discover how easy it is to make small changes that can create a big difference.
• Eating fruit and vegetables not only reduces risk of cancer and heart attacks, but also increases happiness levels with each extra portion consumed.
• Australia is ranked among the top meat-eating countries in the world (per capita), with the average Aussie consuming around 95kgs of meat annually.
• For those who choose to eat red meat, the World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting consumption to no more than about three portions per week (three portions is equivalent to about 350–500g cooked weight) and to consume very little, if any, processed meat.
• Australians consume an estimated 565 grams of red meat per week.
• Eating too much red meat (eg beef, lamb, pork, goat) has been linked with an increased risk of bowel cancer.
• Eating processed meats such as bacon, ham, salami and some sausages has been strongly linked with an increased risk of bowel cancer
• Eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and strokes.
• Plant-based foods can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and help you maintain a healthy weight.
• Increasing your intake of vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants may help reduce the signs and effects of ageing.
• Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season boosts gut health and reduces risks associated with inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer.
Photo: Bill Granger, Meat Free Week Supporter