Friday, September 18, 2009

Ghent's "Veggie Day"

The picturesque city of Ghent, Belgium’s second-most populated municipality (with 200,000 residents), has decided to turn vegetarian.

Well, sort of. According to this article by the The Guardian, the Ghent city council declared that every Thursday be meat-free, even excluding seafood. Participation is voluntary, of course. However, the city already has a high percentage of vegetarians, so undoubtedly many will partake in the culinary challenge. All community restaurants are required to provide at least one vegetarian option on their menu, though some are going whole hog and keeping it entirely meatless for the day.

Many of Ghent’s schools are also offering completely vegetarian menus on Thursdays, though parents may decline their child’s participation if they like.

The meat-free move was mainly initiated in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. The United Nations asserts that livestock causes 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. University of Chicago researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin affirmed in a 2006 study that the average American meat consumption annually contributes 1.5 more tons of carbon emissions than their vegetarian counterpart. To put that in perspective, this is comparable to switching from an SUV to a modest sedan.

Veggie Day was also initiated to combat world hunger, and to improve the city’s general health and fitness.

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