IVU recently reported on the launch of a Meatless Monday campaign in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a metropolis of approximately 20 million people. Marly Winckler, president of the Vegetarian Society of Brazil and IVU Regional Coordinator for Latin America, provided some additional information about the campaign.
How did you think of the idea of a weekly meatless day?
We knew already about the Meatout Mondays idea, and when the city of Ghent declared every Thursday a Veggie Day, I asked Dr Eduardo Jorge, Secretary of Environment of Sao Paulo, if he would support a Meatless Monday campaign is his city. He said yes right away, and in about two months, we launched the campaign in Sao Paulo's biggest park, with support of some NGOs and the city of Sao Lourenço da Serra.
How do you publicize the Meatless Day?
For starters, we use the internet, via vegetarian lists, Orkut, Twitter, etc. We also use a press agency - Amaradei Comunicaçao. Plus, the Communications Department of Sao Paulo Environment Secretary has been a big help. Last but not least, we have had lots of press coverage, including a big page in Estadao, the main newspaper of Sao Paulo, and a note in Veja Magazine (Brazil's equivalent of Time) and many interviews in various media: TV, radio and newspapers
Do you communicate with vegetarian organizations in other countries who are doing Meatless Days or who are planning Meatless Days?
Yes. For instance myself and another representative of the Brazilian Vegetarian Society will be going to Belgium to meet with our fellow IVU member organisation there, EVA (Ethical Vegetarian Alternative), so that our meatless day campaigns can join forces.
Brazil is known for beef and other meat dishes. How can a weekly Meatless Day succeed in your country?
In a survey done by the Ipsos Institute, 28% of Brazilians declared they want to eat less meat. Thus, we are going in a direction that many people are open to. As a result, it's actually not surprising that we are having a lot of support, although we have a big job since the meat remains high.
What other factors have helped you succeed?
First, our arguments are very solid, with lots of evidence to support them. Second, we have four cartoon mascots, representing the four most commonly consumed animals. These cute characters give the campaign a fun feel. Third, two of Brazil's best known singers are lending their support: Marisa Monte and Gilberto Gil.
Are other cities/towns showing interest?
Sure. There has been so much interest nationwide that we are planning to launch Meatless Mondays in Rio, Salvador, Brasília, Florianopolis and Campinas. All sorts of people and organisations want to be involved. For instance, a hospital in Sao Paulo is supporting the campaign.
What are some popular Brazilian veg dishes?
That depends on the region. In the North, we have, for instance, muqueca which usually is done with fish, but vegetarians use eggplant or tofu instead. In other parts of the country, we have feijoada, which is black beans cooked with different vegetables.
More info (in Portuguese only!) : http://www.svb.org.br/segundasemcarne
The Vegetarian Society of Brazil is a member of the International Vegetarian Union: www.ivu.org