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Everything on My Plate Affects You

By Diana Chambers

Christian Unity Week, a week of prayer, runs from 18th- 25th January and seems like a great opportunity to examine how our own actions affect our brothers and sisters across the globe. Does Veganuary seem a bit of a big ask to you? Well how about eating for Climate Justice instead?

As Katharine Hayhoe, a Christian who is a leading US climate scientist, said last year “Every bit of warming matters. Every action matters.”

You may respond “My life is relatively unchanged by rising global temperatures, thanks”. And ask “So who do my actions matter to?” This question can be answered two ways.

Firstly, for many of us we have been aware of climate related disasters, such as drought in Africa, all of our lives. Sadly, this has immunised us against compassion in many cases. It has also meant that the increasing numbers of droughts and floods in the world documented on our screens, attributed to Climate Change – still don’t make us feel directly connected and with any sense of responsibility. However, the second answer may give us more of a nudge.

Who do my actions matter to: the child gathering cocoa pods from deforested areas of Brazil, is doing so for my chocolate, made by Mars or Nestle; the press-ganged prawn fisherman in slavery on a Thai boat, dredging sea beds in our damaged oceans, is putting prawns directly on my plate; and the community in Kerala, India struggling to access enough water from local aquifers or becoming ill from the polluted remains, is because I like to drink Diet Coke.

Closer to home the businesses in Hebden Bridge, watching the water threaten their livelihood for the fourth time in 20 years, could draw a link between the increased frequency and intensity of rainfall and the extra methane in the atmosphere from my industrially farmed meat consumption. Or the carbon dioxide from my demand for fruit grown across the world and air freighted to my local supermarket, all year round, which is warming the atmosphere just that little bit more.

As UK consumers, we are still hugely influential: one of us creates emissions equivalent to two people living in China and thirteen people living in Ethiopia, where the United Nations says the drought ‘is the worst in recent history.’

Therese Coffey famously said last year, ‘We grow very good swedes in this country!’ True, swedes are not the go-to alternative for strawberries in January, but her point was an important one. We need to think of our actions costing not just air miles and emissions in production, but also, sometimes devastating other people’s lives, as they are unable to make a living in any other way.

The agricultural metaphors abound in the Bible, where we are both instructed to act with moderation and wisdom. 

In Isaiah 28 God asks ‘Do those who plough for sowing plough continually? When they have levelled its surface, do they not scatter dill, sow cumin, and plant wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and spelt as the border? For they are well instructed, their God teaches them.’

We hear Jesus telling the parable of the Sower and his seed, we become the seed itself and He tells us clearly ‘Let anyone with ears listen!’ Mathew 13.9. Having heard we need to act. 

How about just trying to eat in season, British apples and pears are still to be found. Or try out a ‘Climatarian’ low or no meat and dairy diet a month. Always choose Fairtrade. For more informed consumer choices subscribe to the Ethical Consumer Magazine. Or check out the ten actions the United Nations offers that we can all work towards for a healthy planet at www.un.org/en/actnow/ten-actions.

Making changes can be challenging, so I leave you with two prayers:

God of blessings, the universe sings of your glory. Deepen our gratitude for all you have made and awaken in us a renewed commitment to care for the earth and each other, so that our common home may be healed and restored and all people, and generations to come, may delight in it. Amen 
Adapted from prayer by Ecojesuits COP27

Lord Jesus, Who prayed that we might all be one. We pray to you for the unity of Christians, according to your will, according to your means. May your Spirit enable us to experience the suffering caused by division, greed and selfishness. To see our sin and to hope beyond all hope. May your ways be known on the earth; your saving power among the nations. Amen. 
Adapted from Prayer for Christian Unity Week 

Everything on My Plate Affects You - Diana Chambers - January 2024
Trees: Who Gives a Crap? - Diana Chambers - November 2023
Ecofeminism in Creation Care: Alternative ways of reflecting on environmental issues - Ericcson Mapfumo - October 2023
Sun and Rain: Friends or Foes? - Diana Chambers - September 2023
Is it for Our Grandchildren? - Jemima Parker - July 2023
What's Love Got to Do With It? - Jemima Parker - May 2023
How Green is God's Mission? - Jan Goodair - March 2023
The Diary of a Prodigal Parishioner: Let’s Have a Green Christmas Part 2 - Sue Young - December 2022
The Diary of a Prodigal Parishioner: Let’s Have a Green Christmas Part 1 - Sue Young - December 2022
Living in Denial - Roslyn Swaney - November 2022
Listen to the Voice of Creation - Christine Jack - September 2022
Saving the Planet and Saving Money? - Jan Goodair - September 2022
The Diary of a Prodigal Parishioner 5 - The Big Clothes Disposal - Sue Young - July 2022
The Diary of a Prodigal Parishioner 4 - The Dreaded Wardrobe Audit - Sue Young - May 2022 
The Diary of a Prodigal Parishioner 3 - "Who would know Grandma?" - Sue Young - May 2022
The Diary of a Prodigal Parishioner 2 - Decluttering - Sue Young - March 2022
The Diary of a Prodigal Parishioner 1 - A Journey Towards Environmental Concern - Sue Young - March 2022
Green and Platinum Jubilee Celebrations? - Christine Jack - May 2022
What do we do with the Leftovers? - Jan Goodair - March 2022
Don't Look Up: Or Perhaps We Should - Jan Goodair - January 2022
Planning for a Greener Christmas - Jan Goodair - November 2021
Code Red for Humanity - Jan Goodair - September 2021
Good COP, bad COP - What is COP26 and why is it so important? - Jemima Parker - September 2021
Summer Sabbath Rest - Jan Goodair - July 2021
Quick Action Stations! There's a COP Coming! - Jan Goodair - July 2021
Trees of Life - Jan Goodair - May 2021
Books, Ecology and New Life - Christine Jack - May 2021
My Lent Challenge - Jemima Parker - March 2021
Zero Carbon Church: You Must Be Joking! - Jemima Parker - January 2021
Hoping for a Green Recovery - Ian Fletcher - November 2020
Food Glorious Food - Jemima Parker - September 2020
If Only We Had Known - Jemima Parker - July 2020
Where to Worship - Jemima Parker - April 2020
Let Your Love Shine for 2020 - Jemima Parker - January 2020
The 3 Rs - David Eggleston - June 2019
The C Word: Carbon - Andy Ive - May 2019
The Forgotten Climate Change Buster - David Eggleston - January 2019

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