Tonight’s dinner consisted of meatballs, vegetables and carbs. Nothing special, or at least that’s what I thought.*
Growing up in a middle class family in a developed country, this is more or less what I’ve always expected for a standard meal – a mix of meat, veggies and carbs. However, this year I’ve come to realise how much of a luxury it is to be able freely enjoy meat with every meal. My six weeks living in Cambodia showed me a different ‘standard meal’.
A standard working class meal in the city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Each chicken piece consisted mostly of bone and only a little bit of meat, as every last part of the chicken meat is consumed.
A special meal in rural Mondulkiri, Cambodia for entertaining guests, consisting of fish and beef bones. As most of the population there are susbsistence farmers**, a standard meal mostly consists of grains, such as rice, with a bit of vegetables and maybe small fish if they’ve had a good day.
It’s definitely easy to forget how much of a luxury it is to eat meat as it’s very affordable for many in developed countries such as Australia. The only question is whether or not we want to pay that extra 50c for chicken instead of beef. Meat is a blessing from God (Genesis 9:3) and it provides us with so many nutrients, vitamins and protein (and it tastes good). So for us who are used to eating meat regularly, don’t forget to be thankful for it.
There is also another side of this story. As meat is so easily accessible for us, it encourages us to eat it without much thought. But this is unsustainable – the environment can’t handle it.
According to Raj Patel in his book The Value of Nothing,
In a world with 9 billion people, we’ll need to cut back on meat. If meat’s to be eaten at all (and I’m not sure it should be), the global allowance will be 25 kilograms of meat and 50 kilograms of dairy per person per year – any more, and the climate will suffer … that means, at most, two sausages, one small chicken piece and a small pork chop a week
To put it into perspective, my dinner had about 150gm of meatballs (a medium sized meal, according to Ikea). If I eat it for lunch and dinner everyday, this would be about 100kg of meat a year. 4 times the ‘global allowance’, according to Patel.
Let me know your thoughts. Have you given much thought to your meat consumption before? Do you feel compelled to change anything?
For me, I’m interested in eating more meat-free meals so let me know if you have any good vegetarian recipes.
*Ok, I don’t normally eat meatballs but I’m in Sweden. Enough said.
**Subsistence farming was a completely new concept for me this year so I will be writing a post about it in the coming weeks. Keep a lookout for that!