Ethical Eats

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Eating meat…Sustainably!

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As the world’s population continues to grow at an accelerated pace, the sustainability of food production is increasingly at the forefront of environmental, economic and social concerns. Current UN projections expect the global population to reach 10.5 billion by 2050. As things stand right now, the long-term sustainability of food production is in question.

The cattle industry is one of the leading contributors to environmental degradation and deforestation worldwide. In 2012, Canadians ate on average 20.9kg of beef per person annually. This unsustainable demand in Canada and other Western countries contributes to large-scale deforestation in much of the developing world. So, moderating our consumption of beef, and other industrial-scale meat products, can help reduce our environmental impact. Limiting yourself by not eating meat at every meal can greatly offset your contribution to the global food deficit.

However, when you’re buying locally produced Canadian beef, it doesn’t necessarily imply deforestation. Of the 83,000 farms and ranches with beef cattle across Canada, 61% had fewer than 47 cows. Smaller herds mean moderating grazing, and therefore less detriment to the land, and therefore the environment. So, moderate your consumption of beef, and eat locally.

-Dylan K

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Being a Vegetarian (or Flexitarian) in Residence: Part One

In August, I made the decision that when I came to Queen’s I would become a vegetarian (or at least a flexitarian – someone who eats meat on occasion but tries to avoid it as much as possible). To go from eating meat twice a day to once a week was a big adjustment at first. However, once I got into the habit, and found foods that I enjoyed, it was easy to keep it up. Seven months later, I probably eat meat two to three times per week, when I need to grab something quickly from a fast-food place on campus and there are no appealing and filling vegetarian options available. In this first post, I’ll explore my reasons for becoming a flexitarian.

Why Go Veg?

Reducing your meat consumption is good for your body! (As long as you’re still eating healthfully, that is!) Without meat as the center of your meal, you can make fruits and vegetables the main focus. You’ll soon find that your plate at dinner is more colourful, and you gain a greater appreciation for simple flavours. Immediately after meals, you feel less sluggish and tired. Becoming a vegetarian also has long-term benefits: you reduce your risk of cancer and diabetes, and increase your potential lifespan. Of course, it’s important that you replace meat with protein sources such as beans, tofu, peanut butter, hummus, and cheese (in moderation), rather than simple carbohydrates and high-fat foods. French fries, potato chips, and brownies may be vegetarian, but that doesn’t make them healthy!

[see http://voices.yahoo.com/17-benefits-being-vegetarian-589913.html]

Your actions will also have a wider effect, benefiting the environment and reducing the demand for factory-farmed animals. Factory farming is a term used to describe the practice of raising animals such as chickens, pigs, and cattle in high-density environments. Factory farms want to produce the biggest possible animals as quickly and cheaply as possible. Crowding of animals leads to injuries (which often go untreated) and an overuse of antibiotics to counter diseases. The animals are often inhumanely slaughtered and processed in dangerous environments for workers. All of the steps involved in factory farming lead to pollution, destruction of local ecosystems, and wasteful uses of resources. Sodexo, the company which runs the Queen’s cafeterias, has promised to source sustainable fish and seafood by 2015, but their website mentions nothing about the consequences of factory farming or sourcing meat products from ethical sources.

[see: www.humanefood.ca

http://beyondfactoryfarming.org/get-informed/animal-welfare/animal-welfare

http://www.sodexo.com/en/corporate-responsibility/sustainable-development/environment/supplies.aspx

http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-factory-farms-and-environment]

In my next post, I’ll explore the healthy vegetarian options available in the Queen’s University cafeterias. Check it out if you want to make the switch or just reduce your meat consumption by going veg a few times per week!

If you’re a vegetarian already, why did you make the switch? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

— Hannah