Ghent in Belgium became the first city in the world to adopt a meat free day, in 2009, with others such as San Francisco, São Paulo and Los Angeles following suit. Now Bordeaux has joined this illustrious list of meat-reducing municipalities, with a monthly jour sans viande.
Starting today, restaurants throughout the French city will be encouraged to promote vegetarian meals on the final Tuesday of every month. School canteens across the city have been offering students the chance to eat meat free once a month since 2012, but now the option is being extended. The hope is that, having discovered how simple it is to promote, and how popular meat free eating has become, this will become a weekly event.
Since Bordeaux is the ninth largest urban centre in the country, with a population of almost 250,000, it means a significant number of people who might not otherwise have heard of MFM will soon be getting to grips with the facts around the campaign – particularly why reducing our meat intake is so important, both for the environmental and human health.
The project is the brainchild of Yves Simone, a local television presenter and tour guide, who was inspired to take action following the COP21 climate talks in Paris in November and December last year, where a historic deal was reached on reducing global emissions. He worked with Isabelle Dudouet-Bercegeay, of the French group Végé Cook, to persuade the municipal authorities and French hoteliers union UMIH to vote in favour of the proposal.
Simone said he wanted to promote the fact that vegetables and pulses are more climate- and human-friendly than animal proteins, which are bad for the health and the production of which leads to environmental degradation and an increased carbon footprint.
It may take some effort to persuade the Bordelais to ban all animal products from their city – in which, of more than 800 restaurants, only three are completely meat free. However, Jean-François Tastet, president of UMIH in Gironde, the department of which Bordeaux is the capital, summed up the principle behind such simple first steps towards a better world, saying: “Offering this kind of menu goes in the direction of evolution.”