Ever since Bjorn Borg burst onto the scene at Wimbledon, I have made it my intention to try and watch the Wimbledon men's final every year. It was a combination of his style, the long blond hear with the cool sweat band holding it back, the calm demeanour that made him look so cool compared to the likes of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, and the fact that he was bloody good. For two weeks of the tournament and a few weeks afterwards I would get to the park and play tennis with anyone who was interested, but inevitably I would drift back to football until the following year when Wimbledon came round again. Through Bjorn Borg I learned you don't have to be a tennis player or a member of a tennis club to like tennis, even if it is just for one day a year. So it is with World Meat Free Day, you don't have to be a vegan or vegetarian to commit to this day once a year.
You may like meat but love animals. If so, the logic of allowing one animal to live today that would have been killed for your lunch seems a reasonable deal. I won't go over the familiar arguments about the cruelty of the meat production process, most people are familiar with them, but it appears a trade off most people accept for the sake of their pallet. However, most of those people have a distant relationship with meat, it's something they eat because they always have, and they don't see it until its on the shelf in the supermarket. I became vegetarian 32 years ago when I was running a hamburger shop in Guernsey and went to collect meat from our supplier, right at the moment a cow was being slaughtered. Once you are that close to the process it's an easy decision to not eat meat again. I wouldn't want you to see what I saw, but trust me the most avid carnivore would definitely think twice.
You may like meat but care about the environment. It is now accepted by scientists that animal agriculture is the second biggest single contributor to greenhouse gases. Yes, bigger than all the cars in the world, all the factories in the world, all the planes in the world and all the cities in the world. That is because we have 7 billion people in the world but have 70 billion farm animals who produce tons of methane gas, mountains of toxic waste from their excrement, and take up a disproportionate amount of land mass. In fact more than 90% of the Amazonian rainforest deforestation since 1970 has been to provide grazing land or to produce grain for the meat industry, and this continues at 1 acre being cleared every second of every day. It takes 660 gallons of water to produce a single hamburger, and 2500 gallons to produce a pound of beef, when you consider all the aspects involved in producing that meat, including growing the grain to feed the cow. A simple fact also is that a cow can't give you part of itself, it can't do a deal and let you have half a shoulder. To have a quarter pounder you have to kill a whole 1000lb cow.
You may like meat but want to be healthy. If so, having a meat free day will certainly enhance your overall well being because there is increasing evidence that eating less meat, and replacing it with a healthy vegetarian or vegan option, is better for you. Rather than go over all the details of the health benefits, just take it that not eating meat today will do you no harm, unless of course you replace meat with chocolate and crack cocaine. But that would be stupid.
You may like meat like I like football, but once a year you want a change. I am not suggesting I am the Bjorn Borg of meat-free eating, but if this article and the idea of me in tight white shorts and a sweat band on my head encourages you to join in with World Meat Free Day, then be my guest. It's an easy thing to do once a year, and you never know you might get used to it. The last time I played tennis was two weeks ago with some friends, it's surprising how some things can become a habit.
Please join me.