Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Responsible Eating

I've read a lot recently about the environmental effects of the production of our food, in particular meat. I thought this might be as good a time as any to mention the subject, it being Ramadan. This is a month we can dedicate to our conscience and a time when fasting should give us a more frugal attitude towards food.
The global consumption of meat has become a topic of concern among environmentalists and is something for us to think about here in Oman, which is a population of fervent meat-eaters. This will be brought further into context soon with Eid al-Adha on its way (the defining feature of this holiday being the slaughter of animals). Even on regular days red meat, which once would have been considered a luxury, and still is in many parts of the globe, is eaten frequently. For many families it would be considered bad hospitality not to serve such an excessive amount of meat to guests that they would barely be able to make an impression in it (forgive me for generalising, I'm sure its not universally the case).
Besides the well-known health risks of consuming too much read meat, there are some really startling environmental factors. Meat production requires vast amounts of water and grain and the animals' waste is pollutant (cow manure emits methane and nitrous oxide). For the grain alone,huge areas of the world's rain forests have had to be destroyed. The production of beef produces 24 times the amount of greenhouse gases as vegetables. Apparently, 12,000 gallons of water is required to produce one pound of beef, compared with 60 for the same weight in potatoes. And its not just industrial-sized confined factories; free-range meat has the same requirements but also needs substantial amounts of space.
I may seem like some ranting vegetarian but I'm not, I just believe in valuing moderation, not excess. The world's population is bursting along with its consumption, and a little moderation would definitely go a long way. I think the shocking stats are a deterrent enough (although if that doesn't do it the talk about methane certainly does).

Its not looking so tasty now is it?!


  1. Hello, I don't have anything to say about what you wrote per se, but just wanted to point out that in Oman we mainly eat goat rather than beef.

    -Omani in US

  2. That's a good point, and I know that home-grown meat is also favoured a lot of the time.

  3. Um... Omani in US? Have you ever been to Dhofar? We eat beef for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

  4. The sunnah of the Prophet Mohamed was very little meat surprisingly, lots of fruits: dates, pomegranite, ect.

    I try to eat according to the sunnah (with junk food thrown in because hey, I am a girl who likes her Ben & Jerry's) and I notice it is so healthy, and is EASILY sustainable.

    Lots of villages in Oman who used to farm such as Misfah in Dakliyah for example, and who raised their goats, and had a less-meat diet, used to be completely self-sustainable.

    Meat-rich diets are traditionally only for the desert willayats and Bedu since they used the camels for all.

    and Dhofar beef is very common. The rest of Oman it isn't so much. Goats and sheep are the thing, and chickens. al Wusta and sharqiyah towards wahiba was camels.

    I like sustainability. And visiting during Eid? I get meat overload. I start CRAVING tomatoe pasta sauce and ceasar salad lol!

  5. Susan,

    Yes I have sorry - was an oversight on my part.

    I remember that was one of the main things that struck me about Dhofar: the cows actually looked healthy compared to the feeble attempts at raising them elsewhere in the country :)

    -Omani in US

  6. ehem... new post please! It's October already!