Paul McCartney is doing it. Gwyneth Paltrow supports it. Sir Richard Branson is on-board. These and other celebrities support ‘Meat Free Monday’, a global campaign with a simple premise: avoid eating meat for at least one day, every week.
In response, MLA is investing in research to counteract untruths and explain the facts to the community through multiple platforms including producer videos, social media and community forums.
The Meat Free Monday website claims reducing meat consumption will help the planet; reduce grocery bills; promote a healthier, happier lifestyle; and improve animal welfare.
Target 100 and other community facing programs run by MLA give consumers the other side of the argument and provide the facts to enable consumers to make informed decisions, rather than being influenced by only catchy taglines.
MLA has crunched the numbers and found that, while 14% of people who are the main grocery buyer/meal preparer in their household know about Meat Free Monday, only 5% have been persuaded to change their eating habits.
While this meat-free message has not yet gained much traction with Australians, the livestock industry has stepped up to challenge some unfounded criticisms and incorrect information, and ensure beef and lamb remains a vital part of balanced nutrition.
MLA Community Engagement Manager Pip McConachie said MLA took any campaign to reduce beef and lamb consumption seriously.
“Our consumer surveys show that, while the percentage of people choosing to reduce their beef and lamb has not changed, their reasons have,” she said.
Health and price still top the list of reasons people reduced beef and lamb consumption, but those who once eschewed beef and lamb for environmental reasons now list animal welfare as a higher concern.
The challenge, Pip said, was to counteract the simple and catchy messages – and the often incorrect figures – pushed by ‘meat free’ movements.
“MLA invests $13 million annually in research to improve animal welfare and environmental impacts of beef and lamb production. It’s a complex area, with complex messages, so we need to explain it in the right way so people can make more informed decisions and that’s where Target 100 comes in,” she said.
MLA’s involvement in industry R&D doesn’t stop when the research report is signed off. Turning peer-reviewed science into easily digestible messages equips industry to counteract untruths.
MLA explains the facts to the community, primarily through the industry’s Target 100 program, which incorporates the website, social media, a schools program and events program.
At the centre of the program is always letting cattle and sheep producers tell the story of the industry, whether that is through videos on YouTube or talking at events like TEDxSydney to over 2,000 people or informing the nutrition community and media at intimate events, like Target 100 farmers Matt and Vanessa Dunbabin did recently.
Now in the third year, Target 100 is an industry driven initiative to deliver more sustainable cattle and sheep farming by 2020.
It showcases 100 RD&E activities, as far-reaching as biodiversity, soil and animal welfare, while cattle and sheep producers provide a human face with more than 200 – and growing – stories about real, on-farm sustainability.
Source: MLA. Find out more about Target 100 here