Sustainable Table and Meat Free Week

There’s been a bit of radio silence from me here lately. I’ve started a new job, writing for this website, and it’s taking up a lot of my time (four full days, to be precise). I’m also teaching some yoga classes and working on some freelance projects.

My first two weeks at work were a bit of a blur, as I tried to get used to a new routine (working any kind of regular hours is very different to the all-over-the-place hours I’ve kept for the last few years teaching yoga full time!), but I finally feel like I’m settling into it a little bit.

Anyway. To get to my point. Because I’m writing for a food news website, I come across all sorts of food-related news every day. The website has a particular focus (as it should), which means that not all of what comes across my desk is necessarily appropriate for that publication. But I feel like some of it is relevant to my freelance work, and to what I sometimes write about here, so I’m going to start posting some of that stuff here.

Starting now.

Just today I got an email from Sustainable Table, who, among other things, produce very beautiful cookbooks.

From their website:

Sustainable Table uses food as an entrée to explore sustainability issues. With up to 60% of our eco-footprint embodied in the food that we buy there is no better place to start.

They’re getting behind Meat Free Week, which will run next week, 18-24 March, by putting out a free meat free cookbook.

I’ll point out now that this post is not in any way sponsored by Sustainable Table (or any other organisation), I just like what they do and think this is a worthwhile venture.

I should also point out that I’m mostly vegetarian, but that my promoting this is in no way a push for other people to make that particular dietary choice forever. However, as Sustainable Table quite rightly point out, there’s a lot of research that suggests that we all need to eat less meat for a whole host of reasons, and I think this kind of awareness-raising week is a good way to experiment a little with what we put in our mouths.

“We need to think about [how much meat we eat] because as a nation we’re consuming way too much,” say Sustainable Table. “Even the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare agrees – the latest Australian Dietary Guidelines stress that we need to halve our meat consumption immediately. The amount of meat we are eating annually – 120kg per person or 190,000 tonnes nationally – is putting pressure on our environment and our farmers. Carbon, nitrogen and methane emissions, water use and ethically-questionable intensive farming practices result.”

The idea of eating less meat (let alone no meat) can be a bit overwhelming. I know it was for me when I first went vego many years ago. The idea behind the free recipe book is to take some of the guesswork out of meat-free eating. The book is designed to cover all meals for a week, which I reckon is rather useful — especially if meat-free eating is a new thing for you.

You can get all the information about Meat Free Week and download your FREE copy of the recipe booklet by clicking the image below:

A Meat Free Week booklet

Sustainable Table are also running a competition during the week. Share your photos of the meat free recipes you cook from our booklet and be in with a chance to win a copy of their book The Sustainable Table, valued at $40. (I got a copy of this book for my birthday last year, and it’s beautiful.)

More information about the competition is can be found here.

Meat Free Week has been organised by animal rights advocacy group, Voiceless.

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And don’t worry, I’ll still be writing my usual rambling posts as often as I can.

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Food reading: Stupidity in Concentration

I’ve begun reading Wendell Berry, as part of some research that I’m doing, and finding, as Michael Pollan says of him, that his writing makes so clear things that should already be self-evident, and it does so in a way that is “always patient and logical, as plumb and square and scrupulous, as well-planed woodwork”. I could share about a million quotes that demonstrate this, but this one is my favourite so far. He’s writing about the stupidity of factory-farming animals, but the ideas here could apply to all sorts of areas:

“If the people in our state and national governments undertook to evaluate economic enterprises by the standards of long-term economics, they would have to employ their minds in actual thinking. For many of them, this would be a shattering experience, something altogether new, but it would also cause them to learn things and do things that would improve the lives of their constituents.” (from Stupidity in Concentration, 2002)

What I love about Berry’s writing is that he doesn’t forget farmers in his talk of the stupidity of the overall system. While its not universally the case, so much of the criticism of our food system neglects to mention farmers — which, unconsciously I’m sure, serves to lump them in as part of the problem. In fact that problem is the overall business model — which, for the most part is something that’s as much imposed on farmers as it is on the people who eventually eat the food it produces.

“It ought to be obvious that in order to have sustainable agriculture, you have got to make sustainable the lives and livelihoods of the people who do the work. The land cannot thrive if the people who are its users and caretakers do not thrive.” (from Stupidity in Concentration, 2002)

Definitely something worth remembering.

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This essay is from a collection of Berry’s work, entitled Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food, which is available on Amazon here. (Full disclosure: I’ve got an affiliate account with them, which means I’ll make a small commission if you purchase the book through that link.)