In just one month’s time, Australia’s annual Meat Free Week will return bigger and better from 24-30 March. The national week is dedicated to raising awareness of the amount of meat Australians eat and the impact it has on human health, the environment and the welfare of animals.
Australians eat twice the recommended dietary guidelines of meat (a whopping average consumption of 113kg per person per annum) and almost three times as much as the world average. This consumption compromises our health, and with global meat production predicted to double within six years, it also raises serious concerns about long-term sustainability and animal welfare.
Participants of Meat Free Week are sponsored to go without meat, including seafood, for seven days in order to raise funds for one of three leading charities – Bowel Cancer Australia (health), The Australian Conservation Foundation (environment) and Voiceless, the animal protection institute (animal welfare).
The 2014 campaign will be supported by a raft of famous faces including musician Ben Lee and actor Krew Boylan, as well as respected experts in the areas of health, the environment and animal welfare. Leading chefs Simon Bryant, Belinda Jeffery and Bill Granger are among many who have provided a range of delicious meat-free recipes, which can all be found on the website – www.meatfreeweek.org – along with information on how to take part.
Meat Free Week was launched in 2013 to raise awareness of excessive meat consumption and the animals harmed by factory farming. Through their research and discussions with a wide range of experts, founders Melissa Dixon and Lainie Bracher realised the negative impact the large amount of meat we consume has on our health and the environment.
“Meat Free Week quickly became a hot topic, creating debate in both traditional and social media,” says Bracher. “Ultimately, our goal is to get Australians thinking and talking about the amount of meat they eat and how it’s produced. When it comes to our eating habits, a small change can make a huge difference.”
During the 2013 campaign, Greens NSW MP Dr John Kaye introduced a motion to the NSW Legislative Council congratulating Meat Free Week and calling on all members of the Upper House to support this important initiative. Dr Kaye adds: “Excessive meat consumption in Australia is contributing to poor health outcomes, environmental degradation and unacceptable rates of animal mistreatment. The 2014 Meat Free Week campaign is great opportunity to raise awareness of these issues.”
For further information, visit www.meatfreeweek.org
Bowel Cancer Australia
Bowel Cancer Australia is a national charity with a mission to decrease the impact of bowel cancer in our community through advocacy, awareness, education, support and research. www.bowelcanceraustralia.org
Bowel Cancer Australia’s Community Engagement Manager Claire Annear said that the charity was excited to be involved as the health partner for Meat Free Week: “Following on from the wonderful success of last year’s campaign it is lovely to see Meat Free Week expand its supported causes to include health concerns, and Bowel Cancer Australia was thrilled to be selected as the Meat Free Week health charity”
“It is estimated that changes to diet and physical activity could reduce the incidence of bowel cancer by up to 75 per cent ,” Ms Annear said. “There is convincing evidence that consumption of red meat and processed meat are causes for bowel cancer, so Bowel Cancer Australia is very happy to be involved in raising awareness and funds through Meat Free Week .”
 Bowel Cancer Australia 2013. Reducing Bowel Cancer Risk: Diet and Lifestyle.
The Australian Conservation Foundation
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) stands for ecological sustainability. We get to the heart of environmental problems by tackling the underlying social and economic causes. We work across society to influence urgent, transformative action to deliver lasting change on the scale required to secure a sustainable environment. We bring people together to champion the true value of our environment and its critical role in sustaining all other systems and in achieving human wellbeing. www.acfonline.org.au
“The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) is proud to be the environment partner of Meat Free Week 2014,” said ACF Fundraising Manager Jonathan Storey. “To ease the pressure on our environment, including reducing our water usage and pollution, we support consuming less meat. When you do buy meat, choose pasture or grass-fed over grain-fed ones. And be sure to support hardworking families in your community by buying from local farmers (with the added benefit of reducing your ‘food miles’).”
Voiceless is a not-for-profit think tank that drives reform and helps build the animal protection movement by offering grants and prizes, creating influential networks, promoting informed debate and conducting research to expose legalised cruelty. After the tremendous success of Meat Free Week 2013, Voiceless, the animal protection institute is delighted to be supporting this wonderful initiative again for 2014 through the Voiceless Grants Program. www.voiceless.org.au
“Australians all over the country have shown their willingness to embrace the Meat Free Week message of compassionate consumerism: a trend both retailers and industry are noticing,” said Elise Burgess, Voiceless Head of Communications. “Australians are now seeing the truth behind factory farming. Factory farming causes the most suffering to the largest number of animals in Australia – more than 500 million every year. They have no voice, cannot defend themselves and are legally classified as ‘property’. Instead of being acknowledged as sentient beings, they are treated like commodities in a production line and their pain and distress is disregarded in the pursuit of profit.”
 Australian Dietary Guidelines, 2013
 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, 2012