Fact-free zone for Meat Free Week

The biggest frustration here is that it's telling our story, and it’s the wrong one

LAST week it was National Agriculture week in the United States, this week it’s Meat Free Week in Australia. We have a problem.

Across the US, Americans celebrated National Ag Week, featuring National Agriculture Day on Wednesday, March 18, this year giving women in agriculture and family farms the spotlight.

Passionate men and women who actively make up the country's strong and united farming industry enjoyed some recognition and a celebration of the hard work that goes into growing a huge amount of food.

Tom Vilsack, the US Secretary for Agriculture said: “For generations, America’s farmers and ranchers have helped our nation stay strong. Let’s use National Agriculture Week to recognise the important work our farmers and ranchers do for this country and the world and say, simply, ‘thank you’.”

While I think subscribing to the ‘thank a farmer’ argument is wrought with danger from both a cultural and communications viewpoint, you can’t dismiss America’s ability to unite, engage and take action. Their agricultural industry is no different and now boasts an online community that is the envy of other agricultural economies, like ours.

Meanwhile, it’s Meat Free Week in Australia.

This is a week where non-gullible Australians who apply common sense and logic hang their heads in shame as they watch fickle values eat away at reason.

It’s also a week that highlights Australian agriculture’s inability to unite, engage and take action. Even online, our voice is unco-ordinated, disparate and barely heard.

The team at Meat Free Week assumes all animal production across the world is the same, and uses a mix of American, Australian and international statistics to make its points.

And if its sensationalised facts fail to inspire, you can look to its ‘ambassadors’, two of which are actually called ‘Mimi’ and ‘Bambi’, and are real humans, as young as they are beautiful.

People must just disregard their lack of experience in factory farming, intensive animal husbandry and food production, but listen anyway, because hey, they’re models.

To be fair, Meat Free Week does promote some notions of ‘ethical’ farming, and suggestions where and how to get meats that are produced in a way its supporters approve of.

The biggest frustration here is that its telling our story, and it’s the wrong one. While I’m not suggesting we get our redneck on and swap Meat Free Week with Meat Week, I’m suggesting we come together to tell a real story, from the source, not rife with misinformation feeding agendas, then wrapped in a charity for a ‘good cause’.

Just the truth will do.

Unfortunately Meat Free Week is using an under-funded and vitally important cause like Bowel Cancer Australia to leverage its agenda.

Participants’ money goes to Meat Free Week itself, to Voiceless (a vegan-driven animal activism group) and World Land Trust. The latter is based in the United Kingdom and doesn’t even operate in Australia; and it supports the argument, like many of the other ‘experts’ Meat Free Week has on board, that deterring meat consumption assists in environmental sustainability.

How it justifies a plan to curb climate change or animal production by hampering meat consumption in developed nations, through a minority of people, is beyond me.

It’s like a tidal wave is coming and they’re on the beach with a bucket frantically scooping water out of the way thinking it will make a difference.

This is a perfect example of how poorly the organisation understands the advances being made in sustainable agriculture.

Progress will never happen if we keep everyone happy, but there are ways we can work together.

But before that, the men and women that make up Australian agriculture will need to come together in a unified, co-ordinated and modern day model.

Until then be prepared for Mimi and Bambi to be endorsing stories of our industry.

Sam Trethewey

Sam Trethewey

grew up farming down south and now commentates on agriculture across Australia
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


24/03/2015 5:38:21 AM

I agree and while we are fixing things we should abolish the vegetation management act completely in regard to private freehold property .
24/03/2015 7:05:43 AM

Trying to think about religion in a rational way is a waste of time. There s nothing rational about religion, never has been, and never will be. This is all about moral superiority, but don't worry the majority will continue to sin. If they didn't, the tiny minority wouldn't be able to feel superior.
24/03/2015 8:34:43 AM

Too true Nick. My land, my decisions. If not, compensate me for my lost revenue and property value.
24/03/2015 10:20:43 AM

I believe Australian farmers do not get the recognition they deserve, they put in countless hours of hard work and never get recognised for what they achieve. It's important that we as consumers thank them for what they do as they continually fill our fridges, put food on the table and provide us with world class produce.
24/03/2015 1:18:59 PM

If people come to a considered reason do be vegetarian then good on them. My issue is when people start making broad assumptions. The idea that grazing stock takes away from cropping is wrong. Most livestock graze land unsuitable for production horticulture/cropping. These same uninformed people will then extol the benefits of e10 petrol, unaware farmers are ripping up food crops overseas to plant fuel crops, contributing to world hunger even more. Or they buy cash crops 3rd world farmers plant instead of growing food. Entitled lifestyles are ruining the world more than meat production.
24/03/2015 5:10:53 PM

We meat eaters don't tell the anaemic vegans and vegetarians what to eat so why don't they enjoy their vegies and mind their own business about the majority of people in the western world?
24/03/2015 5:43:48 PM

Well said Sam. I had a greenie tell me the other day how inefficient meat production is and how farmers should all be growing grain instead of meat. When I countered that some soils and climates are not suitable for anything other than growing grass he had no answer. The fact it's my land is also lost on them. How would they react if I told them how to run their house and household. I will produce what I want, how I want and if they don't like it they don't have to buy it. But it's my land, leave me alone to manage it. I'm the 6th generation on it btw, so I care about it more than they do.
Cattle Advocate
26/03/2015 7:36:57 PM

Why cant Aus have a national AG week to celebrate the enduring relationships between our farmers, the hard working people in the Ag service sector and the end consumers both local and export? People like Brett Watson could show case his easy to read buy Aus label to help busy shoppers deal with the level of contamination risk in foods they feed their kids. Aus meat, fruit&veg and seafood are very low risk by world standards and should be celebrated every day. Aus has the talent to make a Ag week work with a little help from their friends, from little things big things grow.
Tammy Wieland
1/04/2015 10:13:17 AM

Nick, The bottom line here is what sells. As a women in the Australian Ag Industry some days I sit back and just observe the movement and flow of information and ideas. My main observations are this; the rural voice is quite frankly pissed off. That is how it comes across from 90% of sources. No one listens to an angry voice. Read the comments to this blog as an example. I also wonder who is our audience, a story is only as good as the demographic it is directed too. We are preaching to the converted. The consumer is not targeted or educated.
Get MuddyTo think clearly in farming and about farming, you need to get muddy - commit, roll up your sleeves and get involved. SAM TRETHEWEY gets stuck into some of the issues facing those on the land.


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