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Belgian city (Ghent) goes vegetarian on Thursdays for planet

In May, the Belgian city of Ghent declared Thursdays as a meat-free day. Restaurants, canteens and schools will now opt to make vegetarianism the default for one day a week, and promote meat-free meals on other days as well. This is not the first institutional backing for such a move. In Britain, the country’s health service (NHS) now aims to reduce its impact on the environment partly by “increasing the use of sustainably sourced fish and reducing our reliance on eggs, meat and dairy.” Last year, Camden Council in London announced that it would be issuing a report calling for schools, care homes and canteens on Council premises to cut meat from menus and encourage staff to become vegetarian. (In the end the initiative was shot down by Conservative councillors who insisted that people should not be deprived of choice.) While in Germany the federal environment agency called on Germans to follow a more Mediterranean diet by reserving meat only for special occasions.

Source: “Belgian city goes veggie to save planet” – Gulf Times – 27 May 2009

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Apparently about 28% of a household's greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are due to the food they consume. Meat is by far the biggest user of GHG for production. Going vego one or two days a week, growing your own and buying local can cut your household GHG emissions by a quarter - same as a solar hot water heater.

Brisbane's average household GHG emissions are currently around 11 tonnes. We need to get down to about 3 tonnes per household (to manage climate change rather than have it manage us) - so if you do these two things (local, low carbon food and a solar hot water heater) you've prevented about half of your annual pollution, and if you ride your bike a few days a week and conserve electricity you've probably already made your target - leaving you plenty of enthusiasm to join some local tree planting groups to offset all the people who take longer to realise what they need to do :)

Actually, the number one best thing you can do to save household GHG is to buy GreenPower, which is sourced from solar electricity and wind farms - because then your electricity emissions are zero (electricity is about 40% of household emissions) and you're increasing the demand and supplying dedicated funding for the 'powers that be' to build more of these things. It costs about 10% more, but it's easy to save 10% on your bill by being conservative with energy and you come out even.

OK, that's my little climate change rant for today :)


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