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For the Love of Meat (ATOM study guide)

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    Last year (2015), Australia was the biggest meat-eating nation in the world, eating three times the global average. This year we are in second place after the USA, but committed conscious carnivore Matthew Evans wants to find out how we produce our meat and uncover the impacts of us eating so much of it. Focusing on the three animals we eat the most – chickens, pigs and cows – Matthew discovers it is not always easy to find out the answers, but is determined to help show how we consumers can choose better for us, our animals and the planet.

    • Episode 1 – Chickens: After discovering we eat ten times more chicken per person than we did fifty years ago, Matthew wants to know what this means for the chicken. When he finally discovers how up to twenty chickens live in each square metre on intensive farms, he realises how little we consumers know. With the help of an ad agency, he devises a stunt to get reactions from the public about this amazing fact, which he then shows to a fast-food chain to get them to consider changing to free range. It's a gamble for them but could have a positive effect on the lives of millions of chickens.
    • Episode 2 – Pigs: After months of trying, Matthew finally finds an intensive pig farmer who will let him see how the majority of our pigs are farmed. He discovers most farmers put breeding sows in small cages called farrowing crates, which are just big enough for a sow to lie down in while her piglets suckle. They are designed to protect the piglets from being crushed by the sow, which happens more regularly on free-range farms. But is the extreme confinement of the sow worth it for the sake of keeping more piglets alive? Matthew takes an actual farrowing crate to Federation Square in Melbourne to put the piggy puzzle to the public.
    • Episode 3 – Cows: Many of us love a steak on the barbie, but what do we know about the cattle farming that helps it get there? Matthew follows one cow all the way through the process to discover in front of a live audience that the eye fillet is less than 1 per cent of the whole animal. He explores the environmental impact of Australia's 25 million cattle as they emit large quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas that traps eighty-four times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a twenty-year period. He also reveals how last year in Queensland alone we cleared almost 300,000 hectares of land, with projections that we will clear more land than any other developed nation over the next fifteen years. But he also discovers there is some game-changing research being done to make cattle farming far kinder to the planet.

    Curriculum links

    This study guide is mainly aimed at middle to senior–secondary school levels, with relevance to English, Cultural Studies, History, Media Studies, Social Studies, Business Studies, Ethics, Values Education, Health, Environmental Studies and the Cross-curriculum Priority of Sustainability.

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