Tuck into a meat free ‘Free Lunch’ in Brussels

The Free Lunch logo next to an image of the European Parliament Esplanade - a few tables and people

Visitors to the European Parliament in Brussels next week needn’t worry about bringing their own sandwiches or finding a restaurant for their midday meal: instead they can enjoy a Free Lunch.

Sustainable food groups are rustling up a meat free meal for as many as 1,000 people in the Belgian capital in a bid to demonstrate how we could and should be eating.

The Free Lunch event, organised by Humane Society International, Compassion in World Farming, Food for Life Global, the European Parliament’s Sustainable Food Systems Group and Beyond GM, will take place on the Esplanade from midday on Sept 29.

A number of chefs will be showcasing the best of Europe’s plant-based cooking, designed to illustrate the health and environmental benefits of eating fewer animal products. Meat Free Monday founders Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney have given their support to the event.

The goal of the Free Lunch is to show how resources including land, fossil fuels and water can be saved by choosing to eat seasonal, locally grown, meat free produce.

Eating less meat means fewer greenhouse gas emissions, less animal suffering, and more land and water available to grow food crops for people rather than livestock.

As well as being meat free, the Free Lunch will contain no eggs, dairy or sugar, and also be free of additives, pesticides and GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

Since the lunch will be served on their doorstep it’s likely a high number of the European Parliament’s 751 MEPs will pop in to fill up their plates. Those who do attend will be invited to sign a pledge to reduce meat consumption and work on creating sustainable food systems. Members of the public are also welcome to tuck in.

The organisers are working on persuading the EU to introduce a target to reduce animal source foods by 30 per cent by 2030, and also to ensure that children of primary school age and beyond are taught about the importance of food, nutrition and sustainable eating.

In a statement of support for the Free Lunch, the McCartney family said they were backing the event “because it is essential that politicians adopt measures that promote healthy and sustainable food consumption: more plant-based foods and fewer animal-based foods”.

As well as some delicious grub there will be food for the mind, courtesy of a range of speakers including politicians, chefs, academics and sustainable food campaigners.

The organisers also plan to cook extra food and deliver it to a refugee camp set up in a public park near the Gare du Nord train station in Brussels.

Visit the Free Lunch Facebook page