Plant-based proposal promotes meat-free Mondays in Powell River

Global initiative aims to lessen carbon footprint of participating communities

On January 23, one day after the new edition of Canada’s Food Guide was announced, City of Powell River Sustainability Committee heard a proposal for a Meatless Monday campaign in Powell River.

The project, a global initiative that originated in 2003, is intended to raise awareness that cutting out meat for one day per week can impact and lessen Powell River’s carbon footprint.

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Both the new food guide and the Meatless Monday program stress reducing consumption of meat and other animal-based protein.

Although the guide and Meatless Mondays favour plant-based protein over beef, poultry, fish, beef and dairy, it does not ask Canadians to give up meat entirely, but it does suggest doing it for one day per week.

Emma Levez Larocque, a Powell River registered holistic  nutritionist who prepared the pilot project on behalf of Climate Action Powell River (CAPR), said asking people in Powell River to go meatless for one day would not be easy.

“A lot of people are also open to the idea; this is one day a week,” said Larocque. “It's not like we're saying don't eat meat at all. It's really just an awareness project to get people thinking and is in no way meant to be divisive about how they eat and what they eat, and how they impact the environment.”

Nor is the campaign meant to affect the livelihood of local farmers.

CAPR is asking the city to fund the $9765.74 program through the Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program. Because Powell River has signed the BC Climate Action Charter, it receives money to encourage investment in climate actions. The funding is put in the city’s Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program reserve fund, which, as of the end of 2018, had approximately $152,000 in it.

“We have typically not really spent on anything because we haven't done too many initiatives on reducing our carbon,” said city councillor and sustainability committee chair CaroleAnn Leishman.

According the CAPR proposal, the campaign will include a media campaign, social media, a website, a screening of the documentary film Cowspiracy, recruitment of local restaurants and grocery stores, poster campaign, and public presentations. But the key is to get mayor, council and staff to get on board.

According to Leishman, with the exception of one other CAPR proposal brought before the committee, the reserve fund has not been used to date.

That CAPR initiative was the 2018 ecoCity Footprint Tool. It found that food consumption represented 35 per cent of the local ecological footprint, making it almost equivalent to transportation at 36 per cent. Fish, meat, eggs and dairy products were found to be responsible for 72 per cent of food’s impact on climate.

Leishman said in reviewing other municipalities’ participation in Meatless Monday, none have taken on an approach similar to what her committee will be bring to council.

“They're asking to facilitate a Meatless Monday program in the City of Powell River for the community at large,” said Leishman, “and hoping the city, in terms of mayor and council and city staff, may take the leadership role and jump on board first.”

The Meatless Monday proposal will be on the regular council meeting agenda on Thursday, February 7.

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