It’s a textbook example of killing two birds with one stone: In an effort to combat obesity while simultaneously reducing the city’s carbon footprint, the Belgian city of Ghent has collectively announced that it is going vegetarian, once a week at least.
The BBC’s Chris Mason reports that, “Starting this week, there will be a regular weekly meatless day, in which civil servants and elected councilors will opt for veggie meals.” Then, when classes resume in September, the small nation’s schoolchildren will follow suit with their own weekly ‘veggiedag.’ The United Nations posits that the livestock industry is responsible for almost twenty per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, so this is Ghent’s attempt to curtail some of that.
With a population of around 230,000 it’s doubtful that this will have much of an effect on the global climate, even if everyone in the city follows the plan. But its an innovative experiment and if more cities adapt similar plans, it could end up making a difference. Will forgoing meat one day a week really be that effective of a method in fighting obesity? It remains to be seen, but I can’t see it being a bad thing, and it will definitely raise awareness about that issue.
The city will be printing 90,000 flyers called ‘veggie street maps’ to guide citizens towards the city’s vegetarian eating areas. Hopefully they didn’t cut down too many trees to do that, or it could really counteract the positive environmental effects they are striving for in the first place. All in all, while on a small scale, this is a neat idea by Ghent and it will be interesting to see how successfully it is implemented, and if other cities will join them.