Like carrion crows, we live and feed on meat,
Regardless of the suffering and pain
We cause by doing so, if thus we treat
Defenceless animals for sport or gain,
How can we hope in this world to attain
The PEACE we say we are so anxious for.
By George Bernard Shaw
It's Summer and all the supermarkets are marketing beef heavily for BBQs. Adding to this there is also ads for lamb and pork products littering the Irish ad break. It is also normal that the weather forecast that you watch every day is sponsored by a dairy company. The ads continued on into July.
It's funny when you stop to think of it where exactly our food comes from. It's also funny how the Irish Meat and Dairy industry are now, relying in the same advertising techniques as that in America. Extolling the virtues of Irish meat (in all its unprocessed and highly processed forms) and Dairy. In fact, this in itself is cyclical. For example, if it is just after Christmas, people are trying to loose weight, immediately there is no problem in showing ads for Soya Milk or plant based products. But give it a few months and these ads are quickly reduced in viability and prominence and make way for ads about chocolate and meat (in all its forms). This comes amidst reports that we are getting fatter as a nation and that one in five five year olds in Ireland are overweight or obese .
Rather than take on this as a real problem regarding the future health of the nation and the potential health problems associated with this in the future people took offence and called it "fat shaming". What are we to do? And yes, this author is herself a little overweight, so calling people out on this might be seen by some to be hypocritical and yes I do recognise that people who choose to be overweight is their own choice and that the way someone's body looks is meaningless. But, using my own experience of losing weight a few years ago, it did feel good. I no longer had to worry about whether I would be hit with the same health problems that beset my family. I kind of want to get back to that if I'm honest. But I think the thing is that you have to be in the space to want to get back to that point, not because you were forced.
However, coming back to the matter in hand. I bet you didn't know that in the cinema week of Friday 7th Jane to Thursday 13th June 2019, a documentary narrated by Hollywood actress Natalie Portman called 'Eating Animals'. The documentary was a bit different than those that have come before as as well as having a non-farm perspective represented, it featured farmers who bucked the trend of their contemporaries and instead insisted on continuing farming in the traditional manner. In a very similar way to which smaller Irish farmers continue to farm. Which in itself is more of an environmentally sound way to farm than what the modern more industrialised farming structure that is currently being pushed on Irish farmers to adopt. This documentary was one that would appeal to everyone, not just people concerned with animal welfare because in a sense, this effects all of us. However advertising for screening of this particular film was extremely scant. As if there was a want by some to keep this film as hush hush as possible.
In stark contrast to this lack of advertising. In the week that followed, there were ads on at every ad breaks promoting meats and using slogans like "Ireland loves its meat" as a sort of mantra repeated on loop. In fact all the major supermarkets were guilty of doing this in particular during that week. Meanwhile. without any promotion, a little documentary called 'Eating Animals' continued to show in the cinema before disappearing after the week. Very little cinemas decided to show it. Meanwhile, a documentary about a footballer was put in both cinemas in Galway with no problem with ample promotion available. The problem was the narrative, which doesn't seem to suit the governmental FG agricultural policy is actually endorsing bringing the country into line with other countries worldwide. This being a more industrialised farming model. This particular model is one that is pushed in Ireland. It is being adopted the farms around where I live. In fact, even though there are very good laws at the moment in regards to water pollution, the problem still remains. As well as this, because of the increased demand of the bloated numbers of the national Dairy herd on water resources, water availability has gone down in our local rivers and streams on our land. Also, the question arises about this sort of mode of production: what is the quality of health for farmers working on this system. This documentary is unique in that it shows the point of view of a group of American farmers who are sometimes overlooked, the small traditional farmer and the farmer who has been forced into the factory system. It also introduces us to a farmer who is campaigning for the cleaning up of waterways and highlighting the dangers that In this particular documentary we are introduced to two farmers one who is farming turkeys in the more traditional manner, the other who has been in the factory farm set up on their farm.
During the course of the documentary we are given examples of factory style farming throughout the course of the documentary, primarily though the documentary focuses on the plight of factory farmed turkeys versus the turkeys that are farmed in the more traditional manner. It becomes obvious to the viewer which system is the best for the turkeys in the long run.
More and more, meat farmers are being forced to upscale their operations like the Americans have done in order to get any bit of a return on their investment in beef and dairy. If worldwide statistics are to be believed though, this is a foolish move with more and more people choosing to decrease the amount of meat in their diets amidst reports that it has been deemed as a carcinogen. Opting for more of a flexitarian approach. In fact worldwide consumption, although still high has seen a drop with changes happening worldwide. And instead of having a decrease in encouragement of consumption in line with the new report from the UN, reflecting this and striking deals with vegetable producers, they instead struck a deal with beef farmers in South America. Not only inadvertently encouraging the destruction of the rainforests but crippling the already struggling Beef industry of EU countries. In effect, forcing producers to decrease the herd or become super farms to compete. Bringing in the much maligned factory style farming.
Here's a crazy idea, if Vegetarianism/Veganism might seem as too much of a stretch for people to try and undertake. What about promising to promote increasing daily intake of vegetables and fruit in their diet. Along with this, wouldn't it not be too unreasonable to cut out meat for at least one day a week. This doesn't seem to be too unreasonable. In fact, not too long ago, people in Ireland abstained from meat one day a week. Then one day a year. It's not a completely bonkers concept and this time it isn't out of a Catholic guilt we would be doing it for, rather for our own health and for our planet. If the current news concerning the rainforest is to be believed, we have to do at least this for the planet to remain habitable.
know franchise owner said only a few months ago proving that times they are a-changing. However, what is even more interesting is the inference by said business/franchise owner that "That’s what our DNA is made up of". Implying that people wouldn't in fact be able to change their ways. However, if you look at the bold claim that "the staple diet and foods of Irish people for the last couple of hundred years have been meat" , Meat was only regularly eaten by regular Irish people once in a while whilst the rich would have had ready access to it every day. In fact in another instance, meat availability during "The Emergency" relied on whether or not an animal would be available to be killed otherwise it was rationed or it was simple done without. Indeed over the pond in England, the very popular "Dig for Victory" was initiated by the British government. This involved the British public being asked to sustain the British populace by encouraging people to start growing their own vegetables to be a little bit more self sufficient. A recent experiment involving children of school going age had them eat a ration era diet for about a week. They found at the end of this study that this diet might in fact be the best one for children. As the children ended up healthier than when they were eating their regular diet. Also given that even within his own lifetime, he himself would have been used to giving up meat every Fridays not just on Good Friday (for fish)
In the UK, there are ads for Violife. These are shown quite regularly and play out in a similar vein to the Denny's ads in Ireland. These adverts have yet to make their way over to Ireland, even though the brand itself is available in supermarkets quite plentifully. The difference between the UK and Ireland in this regard is that the adds for Violife are treated just the same as those for any other meat products. They stand side by side rather than in the minority to meat products. Which is a refreshing and progressive move in this writer's opinion by advert regulators in the UK. Like fur farming, greyhound racing and other horror "blood sports" out there, meat is an increasingly dying industry amongst younger generations worldwide. In fact, fast food industries are now being told that they have to evolve their menu to survive .
So why don't we call for equality all year round not just in the New Year months when it comes to advertising for alternatives.
Maybe it is because it helps to uphold the long held belief that Vegan food consists only of salads. However, there is far more to vegan food than just the humble salad. There are plant based Paellas , Lasagne , Shepherds/Cottage Pie etc. The other prevailing myth is that vegans are weak and are hippies, however that this further from the truth and is something that will be explored further in the movie ‘The Game Changers’ out in September.
This writer recognises that some people just will never consider giving up meat and dairy, and that's fine. In that respect, all I would ask was for those individuals to make the effort to cut out meat and dairy at least once a week if at all possible for them to do so.
Until then I'll ask the question particularly pertinent to Irish readers:
How many meat ads have you seen today?
Other Sites used in Research Writing this Blog Post:
Red meat and processed meat- Irish Cancer Society
Q&A on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat- World Health Organisation
When Do Obesity Public Health Messages Become Fat Shaming?- Medscape
No, it's not ‘fat-shaming’ to state the facts about obesity and cancer – the science speaks its own truth -The Independent UK
'We're fat and getting fatter - and it's a life and death issue'- TheJournal.ie
An Indian province has slapped a 14.5% tax on junk food- TheJournal.ie
Poll: Should Ireland introduce a fat tax?-TheJournal.ie
Denmark introduces world's first 'fat tax' on unhealthy foods -TheJournal.ie
Reversing Massive Obesity With Diet- Nutritionfacts.org
Study Shows Just How Much Food Ads Affect Healthy Eating – Cooking Light
I’m paranoid it’s meat’: the rise of vegan conspiracy theories –The Guardian
Vegan and meat-free fast-food options are growing. Here's where to find them. –USA Today
Food Rationing- Primary Homework Help
Which countries eat the most meat?- BBC
Meat consumption must drop by 90% to avert climate crisis, report warns – The Irish Times