On Monday, Renate Kunast, the chairwoman of the Greens parliamentary group, added a mandatory "Veggie Day" one day a week in all cafeterias across the nation to her party's platform ahead of September elections. The politician told the German newspaper Bild Zeitung:
"A Veggie Day is a wonderful opportunity to try to nourish ourselves without meat and sausages. Cooking vegetarian is about more than just leaving out meat."
Germany's canteen culture feeds a lot of the population at least one meal a day. A company cafeteria, a common perk of employment, usually offers a vegetarian option each day alongside traditional meat-rich meals -- a tradition valued by the 9% of Germany's population practicing some degree of vegetarianism or veganism. But one day a week with no meat on the menu?
While the rest of the world ponders the potential of lab grown burgers, Germans must own up to a 60 kg (133 pounds) per year per capita meat habit. Human health alone should be grounds enough to focus on reduced meat consumption; with sustainability and animal welfare benefits to boot, it seems the policy should appeal to many.
But old habits die hard. According to the German daily Die Welt, a study by German universities indicates that 12% of German adults identify themselves as "flexitarian" -- eating meat occasionally while trying to reduce as much as possible...something along the lines of the weekday vegetarian option advocated here at TreeHugger.
But experience indicates that learning how to enjoy a vegetarian lifestyle requires exposure to recipes that satisfy without the traditional meat-and-two-sides balance. Since the vegetarian options currently offered often fall into the dumpling-with-jelly or rice-with-fruit style of traditional meat-free meals, we believe that changing habits will require more than just a "Veggie Day". Kunast notes that a meat-free meal must offer more than just leaving out the meat. If the program is to succeed, we could not agree more.