The long-held Lenten tradition of prayer and fasting often means a meat-free Friday and a fish dinner in Christian households. But in our times of greater awareness of the impact of what we eat, there are many good ethical reasons to extend this tradition of fasting to include fish as well.
In a recent homily, Pope Francis warned against ‘fake fasting’ and reminded the faithful to give up something for Lent “only if it demonstrates compassion and enriches others”. What better act of compassion and enrichment than to join the Mercy initiative for a Meat and Fish Free Day during Lent?
Why have one meat and fish free day per week?
Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel. A Meat and Fish Free Day this Lent is an opportunity to tackle climate change via your plates!
Here at Rahamim Ecology Centre, we choose to serve food that fits within our SOLVE philosophy. Find out more here;
When participants attend an event or retreat at Rahamim Ecology Centre, they’ll often comment how healthy, light and refreshed their digestive system feels after eating fresh, live food from our gardens. Our menu is designed to have minimal environmental impact, be humane, take in to consideration different dietary needs and still be delicious!
Impact of meat on health
Many Australians (and many other first world countries) don’t eat the quantity and variety of fruit and veggies that they should. Simply replacing some (or all!) of your meat intake with a variety of healthy, fresh produce can actually increase the minerals and vitamins you receive, making you look and feel better.
The Impact of meat on the environment
The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide... far more than transportation. Environmental motivations for meat reduction are even more urgent and solidly established. As Luke Massey from Greenpeace states:
“75 per cent of land is used for grazing animals or growing crops to feed animals. This does immense damage to ecosystems like the Amazon and has huge climate impacts. It’s why we run campaigns in the Amazon on both soya and cattle. We will not solve the climate change problem or the loss of biodiversity without tackling the meat industry.”
The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. Annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption to once a week can help slow this trend.
Why fish too?
We’ve been told that eating fish is good for us. But unfortunately it’s not as simple as just ‘eat more fish’. Farmed fish is seen as being a sustainable way to consume fish. However, there are two key problems with farmed fish.
1. Farmed fish are fed pellet food made from wild fish. Depending on the variety of fish, it takes around 3kg of wild fish to produce 1kg of farmed fish!
2. Farmed fish often damage the natural environment they are being farmed in. Waste from salmon pens — fish excrement, uneaten feed and muck dislodged from nets during cleaning — does affect the ocean or estuary floor directly under the pens. Read more here.
Our Mercy chapter statement (2017) echoes Pope Francis when it declares that “transforming mercy fires our hearts anew with deeper reverence for all creation”, a reverence which disturbs and impels us to gospel justice when we see the “suffering and degradation of Earth”. Knowing what we know about fish farming, sentience of fish and fisheries practices, we invite you to take up the challenge of a weekly meat and fish free day this Lent.
What can we do?
· Include at least one meat and fish free day every week
· Inspire others to do the same by sharing recipes, conversation or even a meat and fish free meal together!
· Choose local, organic or pasture raised meat
· Eat smaller amounts of meat whilst adding in more vegetables, nuts, beans and pulses and healthy fats like avocado and olives.