Veggies in the footprint

Veggies in the footprint

Baptist University students team up with an environmental group to suggest eating less meat.

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The guests officiated the opening of the BU Green Corner with a plan stem cutting ceremony
The guests officiated the opening of the BU Green Corner with a plan stem cutting ceremony
Photo: Joy Pamnani

Hong Kong has one of the highest per capita carbon footprints in the world. Our per capita beef consumption is seven times that of mainlanders, according to a 2010 study by the WWF. Environmentalists urge us to cut back our carnivorous, polluting ways and consider taking care of the world's health.

One environmental group, Green Monday, suggests the movement can start on a personal level by becoming vegetarian. On its website, it says that by giving up meat just one day a week, a person's carbon footprint can be reduced by as much as 28.5 per cent.

With that in mind, students at Baptist University worked with Green Monday to organise V-day on Monday, which included the opening of a Green Corner to promote a green lifestyle among the university's students. V-day kicked off with a plant stem-cutting ceremony, followed by a salad "cooking" competition among the students.

To get the word out on campus, organisers set up two zones. The Taste Green Zone offered passers-by a selection of vegetarian dishes, including Chinese delicacies such as vegetarian buns, and Western delights, such as cakes and mousses. The other zone was a Taste Cook Zone, where stalls sold organic veggies, healthy snacks and even homemade soap. 

The venture found a supporter in Cherry Ngan, a Baptist University student who was also a nominee for best actress at the 33rd Hong Kong Film Awards on Sunday. Invited as a special guest, she had intended to just grab a snack after the event but ended up eating a vegetarian lunch and said she thoroughly enjoyed it.

Although she admitted not knowing about the damage carnivorous diets can have on the environment until recently, she now does her part to protect the environment.

Ngan now describes herself as a "flexitarian" - one of a group of people who recognise the benefits of being vegetarian, go meatless on Mondays and try to reduce their meat intake in general. 

"It's good for not only your health, but also the world's health," she says. 

What's more, she learned that vegetarian food is not boring or limited to a few dishes as many people used to say. She suggests spreading the good news through recipes.

"When you discover a new amazing vegetarian dish, upload it to your social media sites and share it with everyone," she says. "That will help promote vegetarianism."

In line with the green slogan of "reuse, reduce and recycle", the Green Corner exhibited an artistic eco-bookshelf, mobile urban farms, eco-furniture created from recycled wooden red wine crates, electricity-generating bicycles and wall decorations printed with environmentally friendly ink. 

Run 2 Tree Studio held workshops on tie-dyeing and making soap. Those who took part in the tie-dyeing workshop learned how to place simple designs onto a towel using a dye made from a low-carbon yellow ginger powder. 

The soap-making class was a bit more complicated. The studio had collected used palm, olive and coconut oil from nearby restaurants, and soap-makers mixed the oil with caustic soda. The mixture was then poured into an egg shell, to which coloured powder solutions were added. The whole process involves a chemical reaction, so even after you finish doing everything with the mixing and pouring it into a mould, it still needs four to six weeks before you can show off your soap or use it in the shower.

While the time involved may be a drawback, you can be proud that you not only learned the skills, but also did something good for the environment.

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