Common cause between the flexitarian movement and a movement to bring livestock into the city?
Lynne Davis of Street Goat thinks relating to the animals we eat could motivate the transition to flexitarian diets. Street Goat is a pioneering Bristol project currently raising funds to enable community goat keeping in the heart of our city.
Flexitarianism has what it takes to be a popular movement. It’s not prescriptive. It doesn’t condemn you for your choices. It is a positive encouragement to change our behaviour with compelling arguments as to why this is for the betterment of ourselves and our planet. With time this could be a movement that grows into the mainstream. For now, it is still at the fringes.
Perhaps this is in part because it is too easy to eat a lot of meat and dairy. The fabric of our fast paced culture is woven around convenient sandwiches and drunken kebabs. Food is something to grab and go. It is a rational desire for simple energy, or perhaps an emotional plaster. To choose to eat less and better we need to notice the times we cave to convenience. It takes both desire and will power, rational and emotional motivations. And while the body of evidence making the case for Flexitarianism is compelling, emotionally it is hard to join the dots.
It is highly convenient for industrial agriculture that we never see the animals that produce our meat and dairy. We merely see row after row of perfectly packaged produce. We see convenient labelling with pictures of smiling farmers and joyous animals. We see images that guide our emotional engagement, showing us the world we love to believe we live in. We don’t see images of caged pigs and poultry, farmers struggling to pay bills and mega-dairy complexes in which the cows never go outside. Combine that with a taste for cheese and chorizo and that our busy lives justify the need for convenience and it seems probable that more often than not the compelling rational for Flexitarianism will be easily ignored. Emotionally, we remain alienated.
One of the ideas behind Street Goat is to offer a direct alternative to this alienation. Would the experience of buying milk and cheese be different when you milk a goat yourself? Suddenly the stories you’ve heard of mega-dairies and caged animals are relevant, relatable to your friends, your goats. With one hand you actively take responsibility for creating a great life for your animals. How could you actively impose cruelty on other animals with the other? Suddenly the animals that produce our food are part of our everyday life, something we think about every day. We are the farmers that know how hard it is to balance the books. And we know how many days milk go into one block of cheese. Perhaps we experience the weight of sending our animals to slaughter, we feel the gravity of the nature of this relationship. Street Goat aims to make this relationship tangible, one that you feel in your heart, one that you can’t forget next time you think about buying a bacon roll from the services because you didn’t wake up in time to make breakfast. This relationship speaks loudly. It is a beautiful experience. One so profound that maybe, just maybe, it might play a part in changing behaviours.
Flexitarianism is about changing our behaviour and Street Goat is Flexitarian. Street Goat doesn’t talk about how much meat and dairy a person can eat. Instead, Street Goat aims to bring meat and dairy closer to home. Flexitarianism very effectively gives us the rational for eating less and better meat. Street Goat gives the emotional desire.
Street Goat’s crowd funding campaign ends on Christmas eve – let’s help them bring small-scale, well loved animal keeping to the city!