Like the basement-dwellers who insist on making ‘I’m an Apache Helicopter’ jokes on any article to do with trans issues, the comments under this article are likely to be flooded by bros screaming the word bacon. So before we get any further, if you came here to do that, or to say “grass has feelings too” – illa! Tajba!
Last Friday, and (if my Religion O Level serves me well) the next, people across the island will go out of their way to remind you “li ma jiswix laħam“… and anyone who’s gone shopping recently knows that means you can’t eat meat, not that it’s free.
It’s a rough day to adapt to, but eventually all families settle into a favourite, go-to meal that involves a lot of extra effort to keep the carnivores from going rabid.
But while the extravagance of a stuffed qaqoċċa, or the overindulgence of tużżana’w’nofs ravjul are seen as hypocritical in a religious context, when it comes to cutting out meat to save the planet you can eat all the nanna-loopholes you like (kwareżimal, we’re looking at you).
Like a mother who promises you dessert and then offers you an apple, some may see this article as another trick to restrict your freedom. But if you’re six-slices-of-Baċi-cake into your day, maybe two little clementines won’t kill you – quite the opposite actually. As the world around us continues to erode away, we see people who read one VICE article start boldly rejecting straws in their Pina Coladas, but heading straight for a triple cheese burger right after happy hour ends.
Meat consumption has been cited as having “dire” consequences on Climate Change, and scientists agree reducing the amount we consume is “essential” to stop the whole world from passing the point of no return.
Netflix’s latest documentary, Our Planet, lures viewers in with stunning panoramas and the promise of another soothing Attenborough narration. But just when the popcorn is being passed around and the “God is good” tweet is drafted and ready to go, they kick you in the gonads with brutal scenes of emaciated polar bears struggling to move or a herd of walruses just plummeting off a cliff.
In the poignant words of Twitter user Jaboukie:
“Nature docs in 2002: happy dolphins swim playfully, delighted after a good meal
Nature docs in 2019: this penguin thinks a garbage bag full of guns is its child”
Making the switch away from meat can be hard, especially since the Maltese diet is pretty heavy on flesh, and the Maltese mentality is pretty heavy on ‘uwiva biċċa zgħira kollox‘. Also, just as a heads up, getting your nanniet to understand will also be a challenge (“ahh vegeterian? Imma tiġieġ tista tieħu, le?”). For it to be a sustainable switch, change doesn’t need to happen overnight… but we are on a bit of a tight schedule here, so maybe it can happen over-year?
You can start with a weekly ‘Duluri‘ and keep one day completely clear of meat – you’ve done it before and you can definitely do it again. Eventually you can swap over to an inverse-Duluri lifestyle (please ignore any potentially-satanic connotations in the name) and only have meat one day of the week.
Before long you’ll find a meat substitute you love, or a recipe for spinach pie you just can’t resist, and you’ll be placing metaphorical mattresses under the walruses (sorry, that scene was just really scarring) by cutting all meat out completely.
If you’re cool with the planet dying, not cool with the science behind Climate Change, or have built your personality around being dominant in the food chain, this article is not for you. That’s a whole new conversation for another time. But if you cried while watching Our Planet, or have worked up the courage to say ‘hold the straw’ when ordering a drink, cutting out meat should really be the next step for you.
Malta used to be a nightmare for vegetarians, particularly those that were also food lovers. But as the meal options we have increases every day, it’s more hypocritical to say you care about the planet but still want to eat a string of sausages at the next family BBQ than it is to say you’re fasting for Good Friday while pounding a mountain of fried calamari and a bucket of mussels at lunch time.