Vegetarians Have Their Day
By Bernice Hurst, Contributing
Vegetarians have long
put up with scathing and sarcastic comments from carnivores criticizing
their dietary preferences. Nowadays, though, restricted meat consumption
has become a more universal habit due to concerns about "the cost
to human health and the environment of intensive meat and dairy farming." In
Ghent, a small town in Belgium, one day each week has been designated "vegetarian" by
local burghers (councilors) who endorse U.N. views that meat production
is responsible for nearly one-fifth of greenhouse gasses.
City officials hope that
reducing consumption will reduce pollution while improving health and so
they are encouraging people to make Thursdays in the city meat- and fish-free.
According to The Guardian, Labour Councillor Tom
Balthazar said, "We just want to be a city that promotes sustainable
and healthy living." The Daily Telegraph described the effort
as "an attempt to fight climate change."
Addressing issues such
as obesity, global warming, cruelty to animals and misconceptions about
vegetarianism simultaneously may seem a massive challenge but there was
apparently a lengthy line of people signing up to collect their whole food
goodie bag and commit to supporting the program on the night before it
On the first day "Donderdag – Veggie
Dag" came into effect, every restaurant in the city guaranteed a vegetarian
dish on the menu while some promised to make every Thursday entirely vegetarian.
Schools plan to follow suit come September with Thursday’s default lunch
being vegetarian. Hospitals are reportedly also considering participation.
Tobias Leenaert, director
of the local branch of Flanders’ Ethical Vegetarian Association (EVA),
has proclaimed the uniqueness of the exercise and said,
"We hope that the university, other institutions, enterprises and other
towns will jump on the train."
Wim Coenen, a vegan who
imports vegetarian pet food from Italy, added that the intention is not
to force people into vegetarianism but to reduce carbon and meat consumption.
and advice supplemented the restaurants’ efforts so that people could easily
participate at home. Enquiries about possible participation have reportedly
also come in from other towns in Belgium as well as the Netherlands and
Question: Is information about the value of reducing meat consumption
having any effect on American consumers? Do you see this changing in
the foreseeable future? Would a vegetarian day ever work in the U.S.?
- Day of the lentil burghers: Ghent
goes veggie to lose weight and save planet – The Guardian
- Ghent declares every Thursday ‘Veggie
day’ – The Daily Telegraph