9 Jul 2009

Meat free Mondays

Apparently Paul McCartney and his celebrity pals have been asking people to save the planet by going without meat each Monday? Reactions to this initiative were mixed, and a bit confused. The Independent asked why we can't just give up eating farting cows (see here) - and keep eating pigs and chickens. Friends of the Earth letter in The Times explains why - see here.

Cartoon from Russ

Indeed I was sent recently a BBC link about the Belgian city of Ghent which is about to become the first in the world to go vegetarian at least once a week. Starting in May they organised a regular weekly meatless day, in which civil servants and elected councillors will opt for vegetarian meals. Schoolchildren will follow suit with their own 'veggiedag' in September.

Ghent are to be applauded in trying to recognise the impact of livestock on the environment. The UN says livestock is responsible for nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, hence Ghent's declaration of a weekly "veggie day". So this is about Ghent's environmental footprint, but also about tackling obesity. Around 90,000 so-called "veggie street maps" are now being printed to help people find the city's vegetarian eateries (see article here).

Hopefully all this noise will get people thinking about how much meat and dairy the planet can provide. But we also need to keep piling the pressure on MPs to change the way it is produced. Friends of the Earth have a campaign to fix the food chain - a new email to your MP to get them to sign an Early Day Motion - vegetarian David Drew MP has already signed - but others interested in this campaign can see more here.

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