It is difficult to change our habits. But when there is a feel-good factor, many don’t mind attempting. It works for some. There is no harm for those who fail.
The Meatless Monday is a simple initiative. But it should be lauded, as it is a small solution to a big problem. By not eating meat on Mondays, we might not change the habit or the economics of import and export – meat being a Rupee drainer. It may not save the hundred of thousands of fish, chicken and cattle that are killed across the border and here, for our plates.
But putting into the context of the heated debate, it is a relevant solution. There could be many, but we have no idea or initiative to explore it. When the government wanted to start a meat-processing unit, there was almost a public uproar. The unit was misunderstood for a slaughterhouse and everybody joined the bandwagon of preaching. Nobody had solutions.
There is already a silent movement going on to switch to vegetables. This is totally voluntary. We hear and see a lot of young people suddenly switch to veggies, sometimes worrying parents. Movements like the Meatless Monday will work. There is no compulsion like the infamous Pedestrian Day. Some are saying it sounds “cool” and many are already upbeat about the idea.
Those behind the idea are not harping on religion and economy like many did not long ago when we shredded the “slaughterhouse” to its barest bone. They are for an option – for a healthier life and healthier planet. It is true. Bhutanese are meat lovers and many take pride in saying “I can’t eat a meal without meat”. Meat oddly is linked to social strata here.
Meat industry is also the main source of methane, the gas that comes from cow fart or belches. It is said methane is 34 times as potent as carbon over a hundred-year period and 86 times as potent over 20 years, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The good thing is it is already appealing to many. This makes such movement successful. If restaurants, hotels and canteens stop serving meat one day of the week, not many would complain. Hoteliers, especially those catering to foreigners could hesitate, but that should not undermine the initiative. In fact, one feedback from visitors is that they always appreciate our small efforts in driving change. It is already a concept in their part of the world.
A little support from the government could help this movement gain momentum. And there is no harm to the public. Besides, it is said humans are much better than any other animal at changing behaviour towards long-term benefits.