Starting May 13, the Belgian city of Ghent, one of the 370 European climate cities, may very well become the first worldwide to officially promote a weekly meatless day.
According to FAO, livestock is responsible for eighteen percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why city officials, in cooperation with the vegetarian organisation EVA, are determined to go the extra mile in our common battle against climate change. Other Belgian cities have already shown interest to follow Ghent’s example.
The first Thursday Veggie Day will kick off on Wednesday May 13th with a festive ceremony for the public. Tom Balthazar, councilman for the city’s health and environmental committee, will officially proclaim Thursdays to be vegetarian days.
As an appetizer for the campaign, the city council already had the opportunity to enjoy a gourmet vegetarian lunch at the city hall last week. At the official inauguration everyone will be invited to take part in the Meatless Thursday campaign, and vegetarian goodiebags will be handed out to citizens participating in the campaign. As of September, city schools will serve vegetarian lunches by default on Thursdays. All 5.000 city personnel will receive a free veggie city street map and a free vegetarian cooking brochure for professionals will be sent to all 1.500 restaurants. There will be cooking classes for both professionals and individuals. City run restaurants for Ghent staff have extended their vegetarian menu.
Ghent’s motivation to introduce the ‘Meatless Thursday is twofold:
- Any reduction of meat production and consumption, which leads to greenhouse gas emissions and the degradation of soil, water and air, desertification and deforestation, will bring enormous benefits for the environment.
- Ghent also wants to be a healthy city. A well balanced vegetarian meal is not only sustainable but also healthy. Belgians, and Europeans in general, eat too much meat and not enough vegetables, which has serious consequences for their health. Too much meat heightens cholesterol levels as well as the risk of some cancers, diabetes and obesity.
Althea Gibson on *What’s My Line?*, 1958
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