Denmark is setting the politico-gastronomic agenda once again with news that its parliament is six months into the Meat Free Monday campaign. The Scandinavian country’s parliamentary canteen started trialling a Vegetarian Day on a Monday in February, and the meat free menu is now a much-munched part of weekly political life.
The initiative was launched by the Danish Green party, the Alternative, in conjunction with Meyers, the caterers of the Folketinget, which convenes in Christianborg Palace in the centre of Copenhagen. Meyers also operates many other canteens in the country and is helping Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk trial Meat Free Monday in other parts of its business, after a successful MFM organised by two Novo employees earlier this year.
Niko Grünfeld of the Alternative said: “The weekly Vegetarian Day is now firmly established at the Danish parliament and the Alternative is proud of the part we played in achieving this. There has been a huge shift in public attitudes when it comes to meat and climate and I believe that there is a majority now, at least in the bigger cities, saying we have to reduce our carbon footprint. Denmark is one of the largest meat-consuming countries – but we are realising that it’s time to change.”
Grünfeld added that move was the culmination of years of work done on sustainability issues by the Alternative, which has 11,000 members, but its success is a mark of how awareness of the environmental impact of meat-eating, and a willingness to act to protect the planet, is connecting with people across the country.
Having made a success of the Vegetarian Day at the Folketinget, which consists of 500 parliamentary and other staff, including 179 MPs, the party’s next goal is to encourage nursery schools, schools, care homes and other publicly funded institutions to have one veggie day a week, something it thinks the public is ready for. All the party’s own functions on a local and national level use vegan catering.
This is far from the first time the Danes have shown a willingness to consider changing the way they eat, which bodes well for the future health and carbon footprint of a country that has some of the highest meat-eating figures in the world. In May, politicians from two separate parties, the Alternative and the Red-Green Alliance, took part in a 22-day vegan challenge with a view to highlighting the environmental and animal welfare issues cost of meat-eating, while a year ago the country’s Council of Ethics recommended a tax on beef to reflect its true cost to the planet.
Denmark came second only to Norway in this year’s World Happiness Report – which ranks 155 countries according to factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, income, good governance and health.