Belgium's made its mark on the culinary world with waffles and chocolate. But could Ghent, Belgium, become the world's first city known for its vegetarianism? Starting today, the city has instituted a weekly "veggie day" in which government officials opt for meatless meals. When school begins again in September, schoolchildren will also have a weekly meat-free day.
Deputy mayor of Ghent Tom Balthazar explained that the reasons for going vegetarian are manifold: in addition to tackling obesity, raising awareness for vegetarianism reduces the city's environmental footprint and helps fight hunger. "Eighteen percent of the greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the meat industry . . . and the fight against hunger will go better and smoother if we eat less meat. For producing one kilogram of meat, you need seven to 10 kilograms of grains," he said.
Citizens of Ghent still have the option to eat meat on "veggie day." However, as Balthazar (who is a self-described flexitarian) explains, the main menu on these days at city schools and many restaurants will be meatless, and the alternative menu will contain meat.
Although I consider myself a big meat eater, it's a relevant time to consider the social, health, and environmental impacts of consuming less meat. Would you support a vegetarian movement in your town?