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BLOG: Do you want meat with that? (Engels)

Vorige keer schreef Hannah over vis. Deze keer neemt ze vlees onder handen. Naast YFMer is ze freelance schrijver, schrijft ze voor haar eigen blog en organiseert ze de sit-down supper club.

Not too long ago I felt really bad about my dinner dying for me. I was outraged that the ‘cook’ had thought it necessary to use meat to make this pitiful, grey-greasy cardboard cut-out burger and not, say, wood chips. At least then I could’ve said, ‘Hey, I like what they’re doing with wood chips’. Yes, it was that bad and what made it worse was that it wasn’t the kind of burger I’d signed up for. It wasn’t supposed to be ‘that’ kind of place. These were university-educated kids with over-designed business cards and a Squarespace website that’s all interactive and goes swoosh with words like ’10-hour slow cooked’, ’juicy’ and ‘flame-grilled’ and ‘like us on Facebook’.

Furious at myself
I was furious that it was up to them to have animals butchered to make their non-burgers and disrespect their lives so totally during the ‘cooking’ process. I was furious that they were making money on this and I was furious at myself for wanting a burger more on a ‘Let’s try the new pop-up BBQ place on the…’ (no, I won’t give it away)-whim than because of any real appetite. The only good that could come of it, I thought, other than it hopefully soon popping back down, is that if more people were to have an experience like I did, then maybe more people would be prompted to re-consider their meat habits in the face of something so unworthy of any percentage of meat. And let’s face it, I’m sure this is something that has long been on many people’s maybe-one-day-faraway to-do lists. Be it making the choice to eat better, less or no meat for the sake of another’s life or the environment; those of us with the mixed blessing of an education should be finding it increasingly difficult to keep our heads buried in the sand.

I eat meat and it’s organic for most of the time. Y’know, except for when I’m out for dinner and I don’t think to ask whether the côte de boef is organic because I really just wanna eat this côte de boef. Or when I’m at the market (not a fancy farmers market, just the market-market) and the line’s too long, people are too impatient and I feel uncomfortable asking (in Dutch) if the tail I’m holding is coming from an organic ox. Or when I’m flying, or traveling, or at a friend’s place for dinner, or nowhere special for dinner, or eating Japanese, or with my parents, or… And then at one point I thought I was eating too much meat. I’d eat less. I’d only eat it on the weekends. Or maybe just on special occasions. Or special-ish occasions then. Except that the ratatouille I’m slicing bacon for ‘cus I said I wouldn’t eat meat during the week isn’t a special occasion is it? It’s just a habit.

The habit
And that’s where the shame burns on the hottest flame. The habit. It’s one thing to actively enjoy and appreciate every mouthful (though I’m not saying it’s right or sustainable); it’s another to just be used to having Coppa on your pizza ‘cus that’s the pizza you always order. Or because you’re used to using thick cuts of spek to deepen your sauce and crackling to flavour your kraut. Bones in broth and torn chicken in your salad. As an extra. The not blinking an eyelid when given the choice between a sandwich with won’t-be-ripe tomatoes and those ‘grilled’ vegetables with the lines painted on, or a salted beef on rye. Who wouldn’t choose for the beef on rye?

Except that our eyes should be blinking. Furiously. Or at least mine should be. These are all foods in which I wouldn’t miss meat. They don’t require meat; not, at least, like a steak does. And the joke is that I could happily be a vegetarian but for the meat I eat. The bigger joke is how many people I’ve heard say this, that they could quite happily stick to vegetables except that… Except that we’re not in the habit of it. Just like some people still aren’t in the habit of switching off the lights when they leave the house. It’s the sort of thing you know you should be doing, but you don’t, and anyway, no one else is really doing it either.

Meat tax
So do we need to be pushed to do it? And I don’t mean at the possibly too abstract level of the world heating up (not that the Paris talks really touched upon the industry despite its being responsible for 15% of greenhouse gases, a figure comparable to the transport sector, and despite predictions that worldwide meat consumption will go up 76% by 2050, making it ‘virtually impossible to keep global warming below the internationally agreed limit of 2C *1). No, my guess is that the push, to be effective, would need to come from where it hurts everyone, not just the conscientious or aware: their wallets.

‘Influencing human behaviour is one of the most challenging aspects of any large-scale policy, and it is unlikely that a large-scale dietary change will happen voluntarily without incentives’ according to a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change *2. ‘Implementing a tax or emission trading scheme on livestock’s greenhouse gas emissions could be an economically sound policy that would modify consumer prices and affect consumption patterns’ was its authors’ suggestion. By levying taxes on meat consumption as well as cutting subsidies granted to the industry (livestock subsidies in the 34 OECD nations alone were $53bn in 2013, including an average of $190 per cow *3), we might give ourselves the room we need to step back from the refrigerated isle and re-consider the mince meat. Animal rights and our disrespect for them aside, if the world’s population cut its meat consumption to 70g a day *4, it would, apparently, reduce carbon emissions by an amount equivalent to the annual output of the U.S., the world’s second biggest polluter. And if we don’t?

According to calculations, going with current trends, ‘Agricultural emissions will take up the entire world’s carbon budget by 2050, meaning every other sector, including energy, industry and transport would have to be zero carbon, a scenario described as “impossible” *5. I suppose the only consolation for when we’ve maxed out on our emissions targets and the world is many degrees warmer is that I’m (a lot) less inclined to want to eat a burger when it’s hot out.

Lees ook Hannah’s vorige blog:
blog: on fish

// Tekst: Hannah Fuellenkemper
// YFM nodigt bloggers uit om hun mening te delen op onze website. Dit artikel is de persoonlijke mening van de schrijver. Wil je reageren? Dat kan onder de Facebook post die bij deze blog hoort!

*1 Meat tax far less unpalatable than government thinks, research finds
*2 Tax meat to cut methane emissions, say scientists
*3 Meat tax far less unpalatable than government thinks, research finds
*4 Ibid
*5 Ibid

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