Might be time for a little more clarification of the Meat Pledge experiment and project. We are two Danish students involved in project dNmark (http://dnmark.org/?page_id=5&lang=en). We’re in the process of researching aspects of meat-consumption, and primarily looking at the stories, simply put, of “this is what we eat and why” that form norms and part of our identity when growing up. Since the current level of meat-consumption in Western Europe and America is high enough to affect resources, environment, and human health negatively, our research includes diet experiments to see how changes in consumption affect the meat-eating norms of various groups in society. We’re using this blog to discuss these norms and changes in Cork in affiliation with Cork Healthy Cities and with support from Cork Environmental Forum.
The Meat Pledge Experiment invites people to participate in a self-chosen pledge of eating less meat for a period of 4 weeks and writing blog entries about it. We recommend to participants that they spend a week or two of recording their regular diet, whilst deciding on a realistic pledge that they can keep all 4 weeks. Although it can be tempting to try to challenge oneself to a radical change, or to implement more than one pledge at a time, choosing a single pledge that can be faithfully followed for the entire period gives a more clear comparison and sense of difference between the pledge period and the usual dietary routine.
So far, the pledges have been eating half as much meat, or eating meat half as many times a week, or keeping to organic meat. Sofie has pledged to cut meat out at lunch, thereby eating meat 7 times or less a week. But that isn’t always easy when you’re called in to a long meeting with pre-made sandwiches:
I was stuck at a luncheon with no meat-free choices. It was the only food I was going to get all day, but I made up for it that evening by having a meat-free supper.
Work can really be a hurdle, as when Jacob spent 2 days literally doing ‘field’ work:
We were out digging holes all day and our meals were planned for us in advance. There were no alternatives to the meat sandwiches for lunch and I could either have the schnitzel or nothing for supper. So that’s the way it was.
Even with a miss or two, the data of our faithful pledges shows some interesting results. The other part of our project is to see how much nitrogen use is altered by way of diets with less meat, because there is a direct and harmful relation between excess meat consumption and an inbalance of nitrogen in the environment. So in order to get a general measure of the difference, participants fill out a diet spreadsheet for a week or more of regular eating and then for the 4 weeks of the pledge. We’ll share results along the way, and we’d love to work with some more examples.