Meat Free Mondays, the non-profit campaign promoting vegetarianism, was first founded by Paul McCartney alongside his daughters Stella and Mary in 2009 to combat the environmental impact of animal-based food products. Intersecting the timely conversation about climate change and the recent death of Jeff Beck, the campaign has resurfaced a 1994 recording of an environmental message recorded by the late guitarist for McCartney’s 13-part radio series Oobu Joobu.
“With the sad passing of Jeff Beck – a good friend of mine, and a great, great guitar player – it reminded me of the time we worked together many years ago on a campaign for vegetarianism,” McCartney shared in an Instagram video. “It’s great guitar playing, because it’s Jeff. So if you’d like to hear it, if you’d like to hear what we did and the messages of the campaign, go to this link, and you’ll hear it.”
McCartney himself has been a vegetarian since the Seventies, and Beck also became one in the late Sixties. But the particular messaging of the 1994 campaign found Beck asking the question: “Why are we cutting down the rainforests?” In it, the musician questioned the long-term damage that would arise from excessive deforestation brought about by the need for more land for cattle grazing.
“What worries me is what else we’re killing besides the cows,” Beck says in the clip. “Nearly a quarter of all medications and pharmaceuticals that we use today are derived from tropical plants. 70 percent of the plants identified as having anti-cancer agents come from rainforests. And yet, because we want more and more grazing land for cattle, we are ripping up the rainforests, uncaring or oblivious to the fact that these forests may and possibly do contain plants that can provide a cure for leukemia or heart disease. Maybe even a cure for AIDS. Who knows?”
Closing out the message, Beck adds: “But it doesn’t make much sense to me to risk losing the possible discovery of a miracle cure just for a $1.50 hamburger. Thanks for listening.”
Beck died earlier this month at the age of 78 after contracting bacterial meningitis.
“Jeff Beck was a lovely man with a wicked sense of humour who played some of the best guitar music ever to come out of Great Britain. He was a superb technician and could strip down his guitar and put it back together again in time for the show,” McCartney wrote on social media at the time.
“His unique style of playing was something that no one could match, and I will always remember the great times we had together. He would come over to dinner at our place or he and his wife, Sandra, would host an evening at their house. Jeff had immaculate taste in most things and was an expert at rebuilding his collection of cars. His no nonsense attitude to the music business was always so refreshing and I will cherish forever the moments we spent together. Jeff Beck has left the building and it is a lonelier place without him.”