In celebration of the World Meat Free Week, environmentalists, consumer advocacy groups, and concerned Filipino citizens put together activities to promote plant-based diet.
The activities, spearheaded by environmental organization Greenpeace, held in the Philippines from June 11 to 17 focused on urging parents, school administrators, and public officials to “free” students and employees from dependence on industrialized meat, and instead support healthier plant-based meals in public schools and government institutions.
“Public institutions are some of the biggest purchasers of industrial meat. By encouraging them to serve less and better meat, and more plants in their canteens and during meetings and events, we reduce bulk demand for meat,” said Virginia Benosa-Llorin, Greenpeace Philippines’ Food and Ecological Agriculture campaigner. “It is high time for our policy and decision-makers to heed the call, to take concrete and proactive actions.”
Citing a 2016 study, entitled “Global and regional health effects of future food production under climate change,” Greenpeace said high red meat consumption has been linked to cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Five million deaths each year—nearly nine people dying a minute—could be avoided by 2050, if people around the world would shift to healthier diets with more veggies and legumes, and less meat.
“The evidence is powerful from a health and environmental perspective; people need to shift their consumption toward more plant-based diets,” averred Pete Smith, Aberdeen University professor and former convening lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Added Smith, “Governments, towns, cities, and companies need to provide the enabling environment to help people to make this change.”
According to a recent report from Greenpeace International, global meat and dairy production and consumption must be halved by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate change. Further noting that livestock releases as much greenhouse gases as all cars, trucks, planes, and ships put together.
In Quezon City, a food truck served plant-based siomai, gyoza, and siopao, prepared by the women of Batis Aware (Association of Women in Action for Rights and Empowerment). Batis Aware received mentoring on plant-based snacks preparation, as part of their fundraising and livelihood development, from vegan kitchen advocacy group Me and My Veg Mouth.
In partnership with the Quezon City Health Department, the groups also engaged city officials by giving baskets of vegetables from the Peoples’ Food Movement, a group of individuals and organizations that seeks to address fundamental problems in the country’s food system.
The city officials also received Power Plant Vegetable Posters and Recipe Cards made by Alessa Lanot, surface pattern designer and watercolor artist, and other professional visual artists.
Dr. Rolando Balburias, a practitioner of Functional Medicine and Health Optimization, in his wellness talk, Health and the Food We Eat, said, “In any healthy ecosystem, most particularly in our country, plant-based nutrition can be a lasting solution that will address the health inequity affecting many Filipinos.”
He explained that the majority of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, among others afflicting millions of Filipinos, are related to poor eating choices and habits. All plant-based foods are nutrient-dense and contain many phytochemicals.
“I truly believe that whatever we do to our Earth, creates an impact on our health. Eating plant-based food is not only vital to our body but our planet as well. Eating more plant-based proteins, for example, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 55 percent,” added Dr. Balburias.
Several other programs and activities across the country were held during the WMFW 2018.
Greenpeace International gave recognition earlier this year to Pasig City, which has enacted an ordinance making it illegal to serve or advertise unhealthy food to students on or near schools during school days which, in effect, is a promotion of plant-based meals in schools. The ordinance applies not just to school canteens, but to stalls, stores, and fast food outlets within 50 meters from schools.
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