Ghent is the first city in the world to have an official vegetarian day that will be recognized once per week. While it is not mandatory, every Thursday citizens of Ghent will be encouraged to go meatless for the day.
What exactly does this mean? It means that every Thursday, school and public building cafeterias will serve vegetarian fare, and restaurants will offer at least one meatless option (with many places offering more).
Additionally, numerous vegetarian street maps are being distributed to guide both tourists and residents to the best vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Ghent. For a relatively small city, Ghent already has a pretty significant number of completely meat-free restaurants. Among a city of just 240,000 residents, a population that’s over 12,000 times smaller than the U.S., Ghent contains 13 established vegetarian restaurants.
The official vegetarian Thursdays began in mid-may. They were initiated by Belgium’s largest vegetarian organization, the EVA (Ethical Vegetarian Alternative).
As posted on their website, the EVA along with Councilman Balthazar (who helped in in officially proclaiming Veggie Days in Ghent) gave four reasons to start eating vegetarian more often: “It’s healthy, it’s good for our planet (and climate), it’s good for the animals, it’s good for people in the south, and (most of the times) it’s very tasty.”
Wouldn’t it be amazing if this idea were carried to the United States? I’m always yearning for restaurants to serve more vegetarian options and am ecstatic when I see new meatless meals being offered. Plus, this is a great way for meat-eaters to start lessening the amount of artery clogging, cholesterol-raising meat in their diets. Skipping meat just one day a week would not be that difficult. It would increase overall health and would show people that vegetarian food truly can be delicious!
I’m sure I’ll have to keep dreaming for awhile, but hopefully one day this dream can become true. For now, I’ll just have to take a trip over to Ghent.