Ghent's Veggiedag goes from strength to strength

View over river in GhentThe first city in the world to go meat-free one day a week is seeing its Meat Free Thursdays go from strength to strength.

Ghent in Belgium has been officially vegetarian on Thursdays – “Veggiedag” – since 2009, and two years down the line a survey of 2,000 people in Flanders and Brussels has revealed the impact that the meat-reducing campaign is having.

Two of every three people in Ghent know about the meat-free day, compared with one in three nationwide. Seventy per cent agree that livestock has a big impact on the environment and one out of two people intends to cut back on their meat consumption.

Ghentians are twice as likely to be meat-reducers or vegetarians as other Belgians, and the city boasts the highest per-capita number of vege restaurants

The campaign has been given a fillip by the decision of a farmers’ organisation to oppose the introduction of the scheme to all schools in the province of East Flanders.

A primetime television debate ensued, with the president of the Belgian Farmer’s Union locking horns with the director of Ethical Vegetarian Alternative – and slipping up by admitting that the Belgian people do eat too much meat.

The Belgian cities of Brussels, Mechelen, Hasselt, Sint-Niklaas, Ostend and Eupen are all now officially supporting the Veggiedag campaign.

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