LAST February 17 we commemorated Ash Wednesday which ushered in the start of the Lenten Season. As customary it is for us Catholic faithful to observe our penitential abstinence from meat in all Fridays during the season of Lent as a day of self-denial and mortification in prayerful remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ, DZRV Radyo Veritas 846 is promoting this Lenten Season it’s No Meat Friday National Campaign whereby it encourages all Catholic Faithful to reexamine the prevailing “signs of the times” and to consider offering all Fridays throughout the year, as a time to be mindful of our personal sins and the sins of mankind which we are called upon to help make amends in union with Christ crucified through our continued abstinence from meat.
Over and above the documented health, economic, social and environmental benefits of abstaining from meat during all Fridays; this crusade spearheaded by Radyo Veritas (under the leadership of its President, Rev. Fr. Anton C.T. Pascual) heartens us to rekindle the sacred value of such a personal undertaking which reminds us that as Christians, although immersed in the world and sharing its life, we must preserve a saving and necessary difference from the spirit of the world. Our deliberate, personal abstinence from meat will be an outward sign of inward spiritual values that we cherish.
Health Argument: The World Cancer Research Fund recommended limiting the consumption of red meat such as beef, pork and chicken because of its convincing link with colorectal and bowel cancer, breast cancer in women, heart diseases and obesity. Dr. Campbell (author of the “China Study”) also explains that in multiple, peer-reviewed animal studies, researchers discovered that they could actually turn the growth of cancer cells on and off by raising and lowering doses of casein, the main protein found in cow’s milk. “People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest” (Dr. Campbell). Their research likewise showed that a plant-based diet might also help protect you from diabetes, obesity, auto-immune diseases, bone, kidney, eye, and brain diseases.
Economic Argument: In a published research, a comparison of the plant-based foods to the animal-based foods reveals that obtaining nutrients from plants is much cheaper than obtaining the same nutrients from meat or dairy products. Obtaining a kcal of energy from the cheapest meat product (broilers) is five times more costly than obtaining a kcal from the most expensive plant-based product (peanuts). A similar result is true for protein. Obtaining a gram of protein from the cheapest meat product (broilers) is 3.26 times more costly than obtaining a gram of protein from the most expensive plant-based product (peanuts). These cost differences are remarkable when one considers that suggested daily energy and protein intake is about 2,000 kcal and 100grams, respectively.
Social Argument: An online source argues that some groups, such as PETA, promote not eating meat as a way to offset poor treatment and working conditions of workers in the contemporary meat industry. These groups cite studies showing the psychological damage caused by working in the meat industry, especially in factory and industrialized settings, and argue that the meat industry violates its laborers’ human rights by assigning difficult and distressing tasks without adequate counseling, training and debriefing. However, the same online article likewise stipulates that the working conditions of agricultural workers as well, particularly non-permanent workers remain poor and well below conditions prevailing in other economic sectors. Accidents, including pesticide poisoning, among farmers and plantation workers contribute to increased health risks, including increased mortality. In fact, according to the International Labor Organization, agriculture is one of the three most dangerous jobs in the world.
Environmental Argument: The UN Environment Program International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management concludes that the world must reduce meat consumption to prevent climate change. According to a study by the WWF, to produce one kg of beefsteak, it takes 15,500 liters of water and 70 percent of the world’s fresh water used to grow plants as fodder for livestock. Moreover, a plant-based diet does deliver a decreased carbon footprint.
Together with our collective and personal initiatives towards “NO MEAT FRIDAYS”, this National Campaign and Initiative likewise edifies us to take this opportunity to do works of charity and exercises of piety from whatever resources we are able to attain from our penitential abstinence from meat. This enables our act of sacrifice to find holism which disposes us to love God above all creatures, and to love ourselves and our neighbors for the sake of God. In faith, our acts of charity mirror our love of neighbor, since they are children of God; since they are our brothers and our sisters, members of the same human family; and since they have the same nature, dignity, destiny, and needs as ourselves.
May Mary, our dear Mother, be our constant companion and strength as we pursue this penitential act of sacrifice in unity with Jesus Christ our Lord in this blessed season of Lent.
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