Saturday, June 06, 2009

Vegetarian Thursday

Did you know that the city council in the Belgian town of Ghent has declared every Thursday to be a vegetarian day? All the townspeople are encouraged to forego meat, fish, and shellfish, maybe dairy and eggs as well (the article wasn't clear). The people of Ghent want to be a "pioneers in the fight against obesity, global warming, cruelty to animals." Click here to read the entire story published in the Guardian on May 14, 2009.

While my decision to be a vegetarian is based on cruelty issues, others have been motivated by the environmental impact of changing our reliance on meat and animal products. The Guardian article refers to United Nations data which concludes that "meat production and consumption are to blame for 18% of greenhouse gases – more than cars." The 2006 UN report characterizes the devastation caused by the meat industry as "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." For more on this subject, check out Wikipedia's article on Environmental Vegetarianism. All of the information there is footnoted; the citations include many respected sources.

I've been a vegetarian for only two years, and in order to stick with it I have not been able to be eliminate all animal products. I don't eat beef, pork, and poultry. I still eat fish as well as dairy products. However, I have started buying organic milk because those cows live on pasture, eat a natural diet, and generally lead more stress-free lives than their counterparts on massive dairy farms. I buy eggs that sport the Certified Humane logo at the top of this post. I have switched to cruelty free cosmetics which sport the leaping bunny logo below, and I'm trying to use more cruelty free household products. (Click here to learn how to buy all kinds of cruelty free items.)

Maybe I will join the people of Ghent and exclude all animal products from my diet for just one day a week. On that day I could try to expand upon my vegetarian cooking skills. Hmmm... Something to think about. Care to join me?

* H. Steinfeld et al., Livestock's Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, Livestock, Environment and Development (2006).

© 2009, Linda Mason Hood
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