Each year, the Days Without Meat (DWM) campaign is organised in Belgium and lasts for forty days. During these days, people join each other to eat less meat and raise awareness about the impact our eating habits have on the environment. This year, AEGEE-Leuven thought it would be nice to join with a group of AEGEEans, and they invite you to join too! We spoke to Tom Etienne, President of the local, to find out more about this initiative and how AEGEEans can join.
The AEGEEan: Where did the idea to join the Days Without Meat campaign come from?
Tom: The ‘Days Without Meat’ campaign (DWM) runs every year in Belgium for forty days. This year, two of our board members suggested we take part as a local. We came up with the idea to make this a European event that everyone can participate in from their own homes. It also serves as promotion for our awesome Summer University that we will organise together with AEGEE-Tilburg on the topic of sustainability. This is important to keep in mind: we’re not pleading for total vegetarianism, but for responsible eating habits!
When does the challenge take place?
It is a forty days campaign starting on the 18th of February and ending during the Agora on the 4th of April!
How can AEGEEans join you, and how many already have joined?
Joining is a very easy thing to do. In the event on Facebook you can find a detailed description, but you basically just have to make an account on the website and then join the AEGEE group in order for AEGEE to become the biggest participating organisation! We have nearly 100 participants in the Facebook event, but in the actual group there is definitely room for growth! We are currently fourth in the organisations category, but we could easily climb up to the first place!
Why should AEGEEans join you?
This is not a hard question to answer. First of all, it is a perfect opportunity to show that AEGEEans care about their environment. Second, it’s something that we can all do together, and to top it off, the campaign ends during the Agora, which will definitely make for an unforgettable closing party! There is one last thing: everyone who participates gets a free veggie meal in a Greenway restaurant in Leuven (or Ghent, Antwerp or Brussels). Another reason to participate and to visit us in Belgium!
What do you think will be the biggest challenges for people joining you?
I think the name of the campaign might sound rather frightening, because it’s called days without meat, even though that is not the main objective at all. We’d like to raise some awareness about our eating habits and their consequences on our environment, not to rule out meat in its entirety.
Do you have any tips for people who want to eat less meat?
Sure, it might seem like a hell of a job to cook vegetarian if you have barely ever done that before, but it’s totally fine to simply leave out meat for once. If you’re skipping meat for several days in a row, there are very tasty meat replacements, but for instance eggs would also do the job (and they’re so much cheaper!). We will keep the campaign very active during those forty days, so you can expect lots of information, motivation, suggestions, recipes etc. so that you will never feel discouraged! No worries, AEGEE-Leuven will take good care of you.
Since your challenge takes place during both the EPM and Agora, are you thinking of some kind of cooperation or actions to bring attention to the challenge?
We have only recently contacted AEGEE-Oviedo and AEGEE-Burgos to see what it is that we could do to cooperate, but we are aware of how big and difficult it is to organise such a huge event, so we don’t want to interfere with everything they’ve done. We’ll try to make sure you can eat vegetarian though! We would very much appreciate if locals could post this wonderful campaign onto their pages and into their groups, so that we can grow to become a big and friendly group of caring and engaged people. Oh, wait… A big and friendly group of caring and engaged people? This sounds like something we all know. This sounds like AEGEE! So I have only one more thing to say to you! Show that AEGEE cares!
Written by Svenja van der Tol, AEGEE-Nijmegen