Fire up the meat free barbie and get your recipes and rumbling stomachs ready, Meat Free Week is approaching. The fourth annual celebration of healthy eating will run from 1 to 8 August under the tagline: “Eat less, care more, feel good.”
The initiative is being run by Bowel Cancer Australia, a charity working towards raising awareness and reducing rates of the country’s second largest cancer killer. Several recent scientific papers have revealed how high consumption of red and processed meats increases the risk of developing cancers of all sorts, particularly bowel cancer.
Australia is the country with the worst record for meat consumption per head of population, according to OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) figures from 2015. The average Aussie consumes 90.2 kg of meat a year, with Americans in second place (90 kg) and Argentinians third (86.6 kg). The average European consumes 64.8kg of meat a year. The global average is 34 kg.
Meat Free Week was set up by campaigners Lainie Bracher and Melissa Hobbs four years ago, before Bowel Cancer Australia took over. The charity’s Claire Annear said: “Going meat free for one week creates a fantastic opportunity to get people thinking about how much meat they eat and the impact that consuming too much meat may have.”
In much the same way as marathon runners prepare for the big race with a series of smaller runs, those intending to take part in the week-long meat free extravaganza are being encouraged to try a Meat Free Monday beforehand. Hopefully after taking part and seeing how easy it can be to reduce meat consumption, not to mention tasty and cheap, many participants will go on to make permanent changes to their diets and lifestyles.
As well as improving physical health, the organisers say Meat Free Week will help people improve their mental wellbeing. They point to forthcoming research from the universities of Queensland and Warwick that shows eating more fruit and veg increases happiness levels while at the same time lowering the risk of developing cancer or heart disease.
The Meat Free Week website provides several resources for those looking to take part and to encourage others to do the same, from top tips and the recipe ideas of famous chefs to posters, banners and badges to show your support and commitment to changing the way people eat, whether you’re Down Under, up here or anywhere else in the world.