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Good People Good Works Global Veg Efforts: Lighting the Path to Survival - P1/2   
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Greetings intelligent viewers and welcome to Good People, Good Works. Governments are becoming increasingly concerned about animal agriculture's role in driving global warming. It has become clear that a fundamental change in diet is required and urgent government action is needed to ensure the future survival of all species.

In today’s show, the first in a two-part series, we’ll see how various government agencies, cities and public officials around the world are working to reduce or halt meat consumption in their respective countries to better national health, enhance environmental protection and address the most pressing issue of our times – climate change.

It’s clear that climate change is a massively urgent issue. Scientists from the (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, clearly agree that we’ve got to take urgent action over the next few years to reduce carbon emissions by a substantial amount and avoid the worst excesses of climate change and the effects that it will have around the world.

The 2006 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” concluded that livestock raising is enormously damaging to our biosphere as it fouls our waterways and seas with huge quantities of animal waste, fills the atmosphere with tremendous amounts of toxic greenhouse gases and consumes nearly a third of the Earth’s land surface, with this invaluable space being occupied by intensive animal agriculture-related activities.

Methane and nitrous oxide released into the atmosphere are 72 and 275 times more warming than CO2 respectively over a 20-year period and these and other greenhouse gases from the livestock industry are rapidly heating our planet.

Moving away from factory farming would really help us to tackle climate change and there are a number of reasons for that. One of them is the deforestation that’s happening in so many parts of the world which is affecting indigenous communities and wildlife, but it’s certainly increasing climate change as well.

And one of the main reasons for deforestation is clearing land for intensive rearing of animals or for growing food to feed to those animals, when we know crop production is a far more efficient way of feeding people.

So ending deforestation is one of the arguments. But of course the emissions from intensive farming, including methane emissions, are very substantial and have a real effect on the changes in the environment that we’re seeing.

On an annual basis, raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector worldwide.

In fact the paper “Livestock and Climate Change,” published in World Watch Magazine in 2009, estimates that more than 51% of human-caused global greenhouse gas emissions are from a cycle of producing and consuming animal products. How much difference does it really make for an individual to take the pledge to be veg?

According to a 2008 German study, a meat eater is responsible for the production of over seven times the amount of greenhouse gases as compared to a vegan. And a Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency report concluded that a global shift to plant-based diet could lessen future climate change mitigation costs by a staggering 80%.

To raise a kilogram of meat requires something of the order of eight kilograms of cereal. Sustainable? There was the issue about the current annual worldwide production of corn, wheat, rice and soybeans alone, if used to feed people instead of feeding animals, would solve much of the world’s food problems.

In January 2009, the German federal environment agency released a strong recommendation that citizens curb meat consumption to limit the release of greenhouse gases and energy usage. According to a survey, almost 10% of Germans are vegetarian. Another survey shows that 51% of Germans are inclined to decrease their meat eating to improve personal health, protect the lives of animal, as well as mitigate global warming.

In response to the ever-burgeoning mountain of evidence that animal products severely harm our planet, the Swedish government has created guidelines on healthy and climate-friendly eating, which advises Swedes to follow a low meat diet.

In October 2010, Britain’s Food Standards Agency released a report entitled “Food and Climate Change” that endorses avoidance of meat and dairy products to help the nation meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals and lower cardiovascular disease risk in the population.

The study, conducted on the Agency’s behalf by University of East Anglia, UK, notes that animal-based foods involve much higher amounts of greenhouse gas emissions in their production as compared to vegetables and pulses. The study recommends, “Public food outlets, such as those in schools, hospitals, works canteens, universities, councils etc. should be at the front line in introducing low GHG (greenhouse gas), healthy and affordable food choice.”

We can see recent changes in Southeastern countries; (Yes) the weather change, the effects of the floods; I believe and many people support that idea, that yes, the vegetarianism and the approaches in this area can help in reducing those climate changes.

Eating less meat will help in reducing the carbon footprints, reducing water use, and other areas. At the same time it’s the campaigning matter which we need to go out in public, raising the awareness, (Yes) making sure that people participate in it, and become role models in that.

Thanks to a council resolution in May 2009, the city of Ghent in Belgium became the first city in Europe to declare one day a week as “Veggie Day.” Veggie Day, observed on Thursdays, encourages people to eat plant-based fare to help end climate change and improve public health. Approximately 95% of the children in Ghent’s 35 schools follow this weekly tradition as well as many of the residents and local government officials.

Two other cities in Belgium, Hasselt and Mechelen, have now joined Ghent in declaring Thursdays as Veggie Day. In January 2010, Bremen, in Northern Germany, became the first German city to declare one day a week as a meat-free day.

The key thing is try to move towards a lower meat consumption because meat has a higher emission of CO2. And for example in our office in Belgium, we’ve said that each lunch time if we have a meeting, we never have any fish or any meats, only vegetarian food.

Things like “Meat Free Mondays,” it’s just sort of that little bit of personal action that you can take that will actually make a difference. And I think that getting across to people that what they do does make a difference even though they’re one little voice, if you add all those voices together you can really bring about quite a dramatic social change. And that’s the role of politicians, trying to make people’s voices heard and empower them to actually influence things is really important.

Ghent’s forward-thinking Veggie Day movement has inspired many municipalities and even schools, universities, hospitals and restaurants outside Europe to champion more healthful and compassionate ways of living.

In July 2010, the first city in all of Africa, Cape Town, South Africa, officially launched a Meat Free Mondays campaign to promote public health, better animal welfare, and halt global warming. A number of prominent non-governmental organizations in South Africa followed the splendid example set by Cape Town by declaring the start of South Africa-wide Meat Free Mondays in September 2010.

Sponsors of the initiative estimate that if every South African goes meat-free one day each week, 11,200 cattle, 2 million chickens, 10,000 pigs and 22,300 sheep would be saved from slaughter weekly.

In the Americas, the city of São Paulo, Brazil began a “Day Without Meat” in October 2010 with the support of organizations such as Vegetarian Magazine and Greenpeace to encourage residents to join the veg trend and preserve their precious environment. Inspired by his daughter Chelsea, who is a dedicated vegan, former US President Bill Clinton has decided to follow a nearly all vegan diet to improve his wellbeing for his sake and that of his future grandchildren.

"I went on essentially a plant-based diet," Mr. Clinton told US news channel CNN in a September 2010 interview. "I live on beans, legumes, vegetables, (and) fruit. I drink a protein supplement every morning. No dairy." Mr. Clinton’s dietary changes have motivated many more around the US as well as worldwide to adopt a more healthful and environmentally- friendly diet.

On his most recent visit to Formosa (Taiwan) in November 2010, Mr. Clinton shared his delightful vegan experiences with the President of Formosa (Taiwan) His Excellency Ma Ying-jeou, and both enjoyed a delicious, nutritious plant-based meal together.

Turning to Asia, former South Korean National Assembly member and current president of the New Progressive Party Mr. Roh Hoe-chan announced as part of his 2010 campaign for mayorship of Seoul “five public pledges” including a free eco-friendly school meals program for the city’s children.

Greenhouse gases emitted from the livestock industry are destroying the environment. Because of this, I believe the vegetarian diet plays a key role in protecting the environment and sustaining the ecosystem. In that aspect, while car-free days are also important, meat-free days may be far more important.

Sharing that he avoids eating meat himself as much as possible, Mr. Roh further stated that respect for animals is also an important determinant of a nation’s progress.

I want more people to know that the vegetarian diet is crucial to creating a good environment.

Vegetarianism is progress!

According to a survey conducted mid-October 2010 in Formosa (Taiwan) by the government's Ministry of Education, approximately 86% of elementary, junior and senior high schools on the island are offering plant-based meals to their students to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce global warming, with three schools now providing such meals three times a week.

We would encourage our children to eat more vegetables, because this is the best diet for their health. We hope that schools would educate the children more, because the kids would then influence their parents at home, who in turn would influence the whole society. Actually, the vegetarian diet is more nutritious, and we don’t eat something that accumulate inside and burdens our body.

But it also depends on our dietitians. Therefore I have talked with our Education Department to ask our school dietitians to fulfill their duty. I hope our next step in promoting the plant-based diet is to provide tasty veggie meals.

In closing, we share this encouraging message from Herry Zudianto, mayor of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

To Yogyakarta’s people and also to the world’s community: First, let’s keep up reforestation efforts. Plant trees wherever there is space, any place that we can grow plants. Second, let us manage trash as best as we can. My other message, is let’s reduce air pollution by using vehicles not powered by fossil fuels which produce pollutants. Let's do it together.

Also I’d like people to understand that meat consumption is not identical with prosperity; this is a misconception. We can have various styles on our menu. Let’s Be Veg, Go Green 2 Save the Planet.

We applaud all those across the globe seeking to spread the word about the Earth-protective animal-free diet. May your fine efforts soon bring us an age where peace is always on our plates.

Wise viewers, we appreciate your blessed company today on Good People, Good Works. Please join us again next Sunday for part two of our program on how governments are promoting vegetarianism. Coming up next is The World Around Us, after Noteworthy News. May our planet awaken now and switch to the wonderful vegan lifestyle.
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