Viewpoint: Meatless Monday an odd choice for funds

I almost choked on my lentil pot pie when I read about the proposal for a meatless Monday campaign in Powell River. It had me wondering if I clearly understood what was being proposed or were my carnivorous friends right: going vegetarian, even for one day a week, would eventually turn what few brain cells I have left to mush.

So after a non-vegetarian dinner the next day, I read the article again in the hope the roast pork would clear my brain. But no, this proposal still has me scratching my head in disbelief.

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If I understand the article correctly, it seems that while Powell River has over $150,000 in a Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP) reserve fund, a program designed to encourage and fund local initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint, all Climate Action Powell River (CAPR) can come up with is a Meatless Monday campaign?

Don’t get me wrong here. If people want to go meatless a day a week (or more), I think this is a great idea that has many benefits for the individual and the community. But campaigns like this are notorious for producing little of the desired result. Those who currently enjoy eating vegetarian meals will continue to eat vegetarian and those who cannot face a meal without meat will continue to eat meat. While meaning no insult to CAPR, the main beneficiaries of campaigns like Meatless Monday are usually the individuals and organizations involved in the delivery of the campaign.

Councillor and sustainability committee chair CaroleAnn Leishman suggests that since no other municipality has taken a similar approach to carbon reduction, perhaps Powell River should “jump on board first.”

I think there might be a reason why no other community with such a large CARIP reserve fund, and which has produced very little of substance toward carbon reduction initiatives, might not want to jump on board the Meatless Monday bandwagon. And the reason is likely less about being seen as a climate action leader and more about wanting to avoid looking like a carbon reduction laughing stock.

Early last year, CAPR published a position paper titled “Reduce, Offset, Adapt, Drawdown – A Road Map of Climate Action for Powell River.” Why not use the funds being requested for the Meatless Monday campaign to hire an environmental consultant, a specialist in the field of community carbon reduction, to review the CAPR “road map” and determine whether or not it needs to be strengthened in order for it to be presented to the community and council as a road map and action plan capable of delivering measurable results.

As a Powell River taxpayer, I would have no problem with such a proposal and would be willing to see as much of the CARIP reserve fund as necessary applied to implement a carbon reduction action plan.

How about it CAPR? This is something that would truly demonstrate that Powell River is more serious about reducing our carbon footprint than sitting down to a delicious vegetarian meal.

John Wilkinson is a local curmudgeon who loves food and believes regular vegetarian meals are part of the joy of living.

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