Moving Towards Less Meat Consumption

26 Jul Moving Towards Less Meat Consumption

By Joaquin Brito Jr. CB17 TA18

CBTA Dining Area

As the climate continues to change, how we transform ourselves, our communities, and society towards sustainable practices will be a hot (pun intended) topic of conversation. Last year at CBTA, we continued engaging in conversations and initiatives of environmental sustainability including topics such as waste management, buying local and organic food (including meat), weekly discussions on various sustainability topics, preventing heat leakage (especially during the frigid Ithaca months, which seemed to have been every month…) and the most controversial topic, meat consumption. The year before last, we voted to ban red meat because of the overwhelmingly harmful impacts over the other meats and this year we had 3-4 fully vegetarian meals per week. The topic of meat consumption substantially increased the duration of house meeting(s), involved a lot of conflicting information from conversations that many of us were having and emotionally drained those of us involved. Ultimately, the time invested in the discussions led to an agreement we believed was fair to everyone. [1]

Below is a hypothetical that demonstrates how (more) discreet contributions can produce greater impacts than we realize.

Hypothetical Names

Old Meat Consumption Pattern (Weekly)

New Meat Consumption Pattern (Weekly)

% of Meat Consumption Reduced

# of Meatless Meals Increase (Weekly)

Person Ay

3

0

100%

3

Person Bee[2]

10

5

50%

5

Person Sea[3]

14

7

50%

7

 

Person Ay eats meat 3x a week, Person Bee consumes meat 10x per week (or twice a day for five days) and Person Sea downs meat 14x each week (or twice a day). In the spirit of sustainability, they all decided to reduce how much meat they eat; Person Ay becomes a vegetarian, ingesting no meat, while Person Bee and Person Sea cut their consumption in half to 5 (from 10) and 7 (from 14), respectively. Though Person Ay became a vegetarian, the larger impact came from those who still consume meat, albeit less. I’ll admit, this is a drastic overgeneralization that foregoes any character development, historical and cultural context, socioeconomic status, portion size, etc., but I think it’s a great example of how we can all take steps towards a common goal, no matter where we start.

The hypothetical above isn’t meant to insult, hurt, or detract from anyone’s life practices and/or value system(s). We can always drive less, shower quicker, eat better, pay more attention to the lights, reduce wasteful purchases, and so on[4] but if we want to help others achieve these goals, two things must be true: (1) there must be a desire from within to do so[5] and; (2) we must engage with compassion and patience. At CBTA, “passion” doesn’t begin to incapsulate how we feel around these issues, and (unfortunately) the luxury of time continues to dissipate. Fortunately, many of us are actively taking steps at Cornell (and beyond the ivory tower) in preparation to become leaders, and some to continue leading, (in our respective fields) with the explicit goal of creating a more sustainable, just and equitable planet.

P.S. – Day in and day out, we’re extremely grateful to the CBTA chefs, Londell and Choklay but are especially thankful that our dietary amendments were welcomed with enthusiasm. Some might even say this was a…friendly amendment.

[1] The chefs ensured there was ample meat left over for those that wanted.

[2] Promises not to sting!

[3] Might be a pirate…

[4] “Eliminate capitalism!” … (“Who said that?”)

[5] Whether it comes from within, a documentary or a conversation.

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