Transforming lives on four continents

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Food, farming and flexitarianism

Small changes that make a BIG difference.

We’re bombarded on almost a daily basis with facts about the current state of the environment and, quite frankly, it goes over our heads. At least it did for me until very recently. Having studied a BA in Geography with a heavy emphasis on climate change, statistics were being thrown at me relentlessly. It felt hopeless, and, ironically, I ended up strongly demotivated. What difference could I, one individual, make? So, what changed and why did these facts begin to have an impact?


It began with food. One morning, I was doing a shop in my local supermarket and I picked up a pack of red grapes. Written on the front were the words: ‘Origin: South Africa.’  It suddenly hit me the distance the grapes had travelled just so I could eat them out of season.


This began a journey of me really questioning what I ate and where it came from. It opened a huge can of worms that began to challenge me as I saw the consequences of my affluent western lifestyle. Around the same time, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s War on Waste documentary was aired on the BBC and I learnt that £700 worth of household food in the UK is thrown out every year. However, it wasn’t until I began researching about meat production that I really began to feel ill...  


Meat and dairy production contributes more towards climate change than the entire global transport sector combined! Emissions are created through the farming, packaging and distribution of the meat. Cows in particular release large amounts of methane which traps 100 times more heat than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in just a five-year period. Furthermore, livestock production itself contributes not only to climate change but to other serious environmental problems such as water shortages, pollution and a loss of biodiversity.



How to respond?

I’m not trying to convince you to become vegetarian. That was too big a leap for me. So to begin with, I have made the decision to go ‘flexitarian’ – and I assure you it’s not as painful as it sounds. I still eat meat, but only on special occasions: like eating a meal out or being a guest in someone’s house.


Does this still seem too drastic? I initially decided to have one meat free meal a week which was completely manageable. My family joined me, and together we also made the decision to switch from supermarket vegetables to organic and seasonal vegetables delivered from our local farm. This has been incredible, not only because of the quality of the vegetables but on an environmental note, we know the vegetables we eat have only travelled a very small distance to get to us, significantly reducing our carbon footprint.  Another factor affecting this decision was our discovery, through watching War on Waste, that on one farm alone, 40 per cent of the vegetables grown were just ploughed back into the land because they weren’t ‘cosmetically pretty enough’ to make it to our supermarket shelves. 


But why do all these facts matter and what has any of this got to do with faith in Jesus Christ? I asked the same question. However, we learn right at the very beginning of the Bible (Genesis 1!) that we have been gifted the planet by God to steward, shepherd and take care of. It is in fact God’s first commandment to mankind. If one of our main goals as Christians is to be more like Jesus in everything we do, surely taking care of the gift he has given us to the best of our ability is included in this.


Colossians 1: 16-17 proclaims that all things have been created through our Lord, for him and by him. Why would we not want to look after this planet and do everything in our power to live lifestyles that affect it as little as possible? These questions challenged me, but I felt again that as an individual there was very little I could do to make a difference. There I was wrong. As individuals we have the power for such change in the name of Jesus, and it starts with us. Even if we only make very small and manageable differences to our lifestyles, we can create significant change and demonstrate the love of Christ through looking after what he has given us.


So, why not join the ‘worth doing’ challenge this month and try either having one meat free meal a week or gradually becoming flexitarian over three months and see how it goes?


Words: Izzy Woodman, Lyme Regis Baptist Church






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