MANILA – Environmentalists, youth, women, farmers and consumer advocacy groups in the Philippines are part of a growing movement that this week have put together activities to promote plant based meals, calling the attention of local officials to the need for providing citizens with healthier food options, both for their health and the environment.
Greenpeace and partner groups are spearheading celebrations for World Meat Free Week (WMFW) in the Philippines to call on parents, school administrators and public officials to ‘free’ students, employees and workers 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,” she added.
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. Governments, towns, cities, and companies need to provide the enabling environment to help people to make this change,” said Pete Smith, Aberdeen University Professor and former Convening Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
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 . 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 fund-raising 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 them baskets of vegetables from the Peoples’ Food Movement, a group of individuals and organizations that seek 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 - diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. - afflicting millions of Filipinos, are related to poor eating choices and habits. All plant-based foods are nutrient-dense and contain many phytochemicals: the two main reasons why we say that food is medicine.
“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," he added.
Meanwhile, in Bacolod City, Greenpeace Volunteers and Bacolod Vegans held a cooking demo and talks on organic farming at the Bacolod City New Government Center. In Iloilo, the Zarraga National High School community joined ecological farmers as they prepared plant-based snacks and formulated their weekly meal plans.
In Camarines Sur, the youth and agriculture advocacy group #IAmHampasLupa Youth, the Rinconada Movement for Environment and Sustainable Agriculture (RincoMESA), the Bicol Youth for Climate Action, and the Disaster Resilience and Environment Network (BYCANDREN) are staging an awareness campaign about the benefits of reducing meat consumption at the Iriga City Friendship Plaza, for the City’s Independence Day celebrations. They are also treating Irigueños with ‘freedom from meat’ snacks.
On June 14, La Tierra Agua, a movement that aims to protect our land and water, will hold a unique Iftar for the Muslim community of Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga City, as they hold "VeggIftar 2018: Meet on World's Meat Free Day”.
Earlier, on Sunday, 10 June, the Iloilo Mountaineering Club celebrated World Meat- Free Week in Jaro, Iloilo City. On the program was a yoga practitioner's talk on his journey towards a meat-free diet, followed by a yoga session.
Greenpeace International gave recognition earlier this year to Pasig City, which has enacted an ordinance making it illegal.