These days, deciding what to eat is about more than just filling our stomachs. Increasingly we are asked to consider the effect that our food choices have on our communities and the environment, as well as ourselves. We are asked to eat foods that are produced sustainably, locally and ethically. “You are what you eat” has become “what you eat affects us all”.
Meat production is often targeted as having a large environmental impact. Different methods have been used to estimate the amount of water needed to produce a kilogram of beef varying between 500 and 50,000 litres, and methane emissions from ruminants are estimated to account for 10% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Just over half of Australia is used for grazing animals, with more used to grow feed for more intensively raised animals.
In 2009 Australians, on average, each chewed their way through nearly 108 kg of meat, just over 2 kg per week, and we are one of the top meat-consuming nations of the world with only approximately 5% vegetarians. By comparison, the British ate 84 kg per person and the Chinese about 58 kg per person. The average meat consumption in India per person for the year, the lowest in the world, was only slightly more than what we consume in a fortnight at 4.4 kg. Our meat-heavy diet has been associated with chronic health issues and there are many that question whether it is morally right to raise and kill animals for food at all.
Reducing meat consumption is often suggested as a way to reduce our impact on the environment. But if Australia as a nation decided to halve our meat consumption, what would replace it in our diets? Is Australia’s climate and geography suited to producing the large amounts of plant foods needed to feed us? Could the water we currently use to produce meat actually be diverted and used for another purpose? Would we ever be the nation that says “throw another veggie on the barbie?”
When: Thursday 21 March 2013, 6.00 pm – 8.30 pm
Where: Lirra Lirra Cafe, Waite Road, Waite Campus
Finger food provided. A cash bar will be open throughout the event.
Admission is free, but prior registration is essential as seats are strictly limited.
To register to attend the event go to http://waitedebate-meat.eventbrite.com/
To join the debate on Twitter, follow @waiteresearch and use the hashtag #agchatoz