Ghent, Belgium (pop. 200,000) is 30 miles west of Brussels. Two weeks ago, this small city decided to try an unusual approach in reduce global warming. Despite the fact that the city is renowned for its fish and shellfish, Ghent has decided to go meat and seafood free every Thursday.
The Guardian praises the move:
"On the eve of what is being touted as an unprecedented exercise, the biggest queue in the Flemish university town of 200,000 yesterday was for signatures – to collect a bag of wholefood goodies and sign up for 'Donderdag – Veggie Dag', turning the burghers of Ghent into pioneers in the fight against obesity, global warming, cruelty to animals and against the myth that meat-free eating amounts to a diet of soggy lettuce, a slice of tomato, and a foul-tasting bean burger."
Ghent's officials are teaming up with Belgium's national vegetarian organization, EVA (Ethical Vegetarian Alternative). An EVA statement said: "Ghent, in co-operation with the vegetarian organization EVA, is determined to go the extra mile in our common battle against climate change. Other Belgian cities have already shown interest in following Ghent's example."
Apparently, the city council was persuaded to back the idea when vegetarian chef Philippe van den Bulck served a gourmet banquet at the town hall. It appears that Chef Philippe managed to change minds about how delicious vegetarian cooking can be.
As any self-respecting city should do when promoting an idea as great as this one, Ghent threw a party to celebrate the first veggie Thursday. The city distributed vegetarian recipes; lists of vegetarian restaurants, food samples, fair-trade wine and demonstrations were given on how to cook a 'green' meal.
We hope that the university, other institutions, enterprises and other towns will jump on the train," said the director of the local branch of EVA. Already other towns in Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada are making inquiries regarding the planning and promotion of this type of event.
As explained in Kathy Freston's article, Vegetarian is the New Prius,
"For a decade now, the image of Leonardo DiCaprio cruising in his hybrid Toyota Prius has defined the gold standard for environmentalism. These gas-sipping vehicles became a veritable symbol of the consumers' power to strike a blow against global warming. Just think: a car that could cut your vehicle emissions in half - in a country responsible for 25% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions… Last year researchers turned their attention to another gas guzzling consumer purchase… The researchers found that, when it's all added up, the average American does more to reduce global warming emissions by going vegetarian than by switching to a Prius."
Will Veggie Thursdays catch on? I hope so!