Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ghent goes veg... once a week

By Tracy

The UK's Guardian reported last week ("Day of the Lentil Burghers") that the Belgian city of Ghent (Gent/Gand), as part of its contribution to fighting global warming and to improving human health, is going vegetarian one day a week. They began last Thursday.

According to the report:

"The city council says it is the first town in Europe and probably the western world to try to make the entire place vegetarian for a day every week. Tom Balthazar, the Labour party councillor pushing the scheme, said: 'There's nothing compulsory. We just want to be a city that promotes sustainable and healthy living.'

Every restaurant in the city is to guarantee a vegetarian dish on the menu, with some going fully vegetarian every Thursday. From September, the city's schools are to make a meat-free meal the 'default' option every Thursday, although parents can insist on meat for their children. At least one hospital wants to join in."

This is a great step in the right direction. And as one who's always believed that one of the best ways to encourage people in our spoiled, well-fed countries to try going vegan is to make them great vegan food, I was interested to read how it started:

"The Lib-Lab coalition running the city was persuaded to back the idea when Philippe van den Bulck, an outstanding culinary talent, served up a veggie gastronomic tour de force at the town hall. He is one of Flanders's top chefs and food writers, doing time at El Bulli in Spain, to many the best restaurant in the world. He is also a vegetarian."

There's a vegan quoted in the article too, and as the emphasis is on "tapping into a zeitgeist awareness of the cost to human health and the environment of intensive meat and dairy farming", and the sample food mentioned in the article includes egg-free mayonnaise, there's evidence of a vegan consciousness in the exercise too.

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