Green words, by Emma

How to lead a greener lifestyle, with Emma Bowen, our previous editor.

What's on your plate?

Credit: iStockphoto

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The issue of where our food comes from is one that is very dear to me. I care very strongly about the pesticides and chemicals used on food, and the detriment it has both to our own health and that of the environment. Similarly, I care about the emissions caused by shipping of food, particularly in and out of the country. But it is the issue of animals and meat production that invokes the most passionate reaction.

Personally, for me and my own food ethics, the proof of animal sentience is too strong to ignore. Cows, lambs, chickens, pigs and other farm animals alike have all shown to be sentient beings, meaning they have an awareness of their self and of their surroundings, and furthermore experience emotions – including happiness and fear.

I find it amazing, though absolutely believable, that studies have shown pigs to be smarter than dogs and possess the mental capacity of three-year-old children. I wonder how many have pondered that fact when sitting down to eat a plate of bacon or a ham sandwich? Would feelings be the same if it were your pet pooch on the dinner table?

To this same sentiment, as a new owner of a dog, I was recently chatting to a friend about animal training when they told me of a local puppy school that had a pet pig attending classes. What is it that makes us take some animals into our homes to become a part of the family, while we destine others to our dinner plates?

Opinions are rife on all quarters of the meat discussion; it’s a strong and contentious issue with food being an everyday and essential part of our lives and social connection. But more than ever, no matter where your opinion lies it is certain that – in our modern industrial society – we are disconnected with where our food comes from, and the impact it has on the environment and particularly on the animals that lose their lives for human consumption.

We began to explore the origins of our country’s food this issue; pick up the current Dec/Jan '12 issue for a read. And, if the topic of animals in food production is something you’d like to explore further, also visit Voiceless and Animals Australia.

Don’t forget too, we always love to hear from you; our intelligent readers! Please email us at and share your own thoughts on this very important topic.