Veggie Day: sensible? Or politics at its ‘wurst’?

Meat Free Day

Legislated Veggie Day: is that the "wurst" thing?

Political parties come up with some wacky-sounding ideas every now and then. Particularly around election time.

But if you think the lead-up to the Australian election is all a bit of a yawn fest for its predictability, you may like this: the German Greens party wants a weekly “Veggie Day” in all work canteens. By law.

Germans consume an average of 60kg of meat a year — including an array of sausages, for which they’re, well … famous. (Think frankfurter, bratwurst, bregenwurst, bockwurst, extrawurst…you get the gist, and no, I didn’t make up that last one…) Indeed most Germans have meat and sausages every day.

An idea more common in Europe and North America than Australia and NZ — unless it’s someone’s birthday or the Melbourne Cup — most  German firms give their employees a free work-day lunch in the canteen.

Renate Kunast, Chairwoman of the German Green Party, says they believe that Veggie Day will benefit waistlines, help animal welfare and chop the nation’s carbon footprint (by cutting back on farming red meat).

Various figures put German vegetarians at 6 million to 8 million people, according to  Institut Produkt und Markt and the Vegetarian Federation of Germany. Going on the higher number, that’s 10% of the population, which Eurispes (an Italian research institute) says is the second-highest rate of vegetarianism in the  EU (Italy being first).

But in an election that’s revolved around tax increases, the minimum wage, childcare and the euro, Veggie Day has many scoffing.

On 6th August, the mass circulation Bild newspaper ran with, “What a presumptuous plan! Whoever wants responsible citizens must also treat them that way. And must not constantly try to re-educate them.” (Ahem, what newspaper does attempt to “re-educate” people?… Oh, that many…)

But there may be a precedent. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper cites the city of Bremen introducing a “meat-free Thursday” scheme in 2010, with several big German companies already having Veggie Days or Vegan Days to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with a little pecan and tofu stir-fry every now and then, but a legislated day?! The Germans head to the polls on September 22. Let’s see if they think a legally enforced Veggie Day is the “wurst” idea anyone’s come up with yet…


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